Feeling informed during your hospital stay
Carmen Oliveras, MD, is a hospitalist at Banner Gateway Medical Center.
Question: What do you recommend hospitalized patients do to ensure they are well informed about their care and treatment?
Answer: I encourage my patients to do several things to help them feel informed during their hospital stay. Here’s a helpful list.
- Take notes. This will help you remember what your doctors have told you and plans for your tests, treatment and medications.
- Identify Key Care Providers. During a hospital stay, a hospitalist usually organizes a patient’s care. A hospitalist is a physician who works only in the hospital and is responsible for a patient’s overall care. We work with various physician specialists, nurses and other providers to coordinate care. Ask questions to be sure you understand the role your hospitalist and physician specialists each play in your care.
- Meet your caregivers. Be sure to get to know your other caregivers, including nurses, therapists and support staff. Understanding everyone’s role in your care makes you a more informed patient and can enhance your recovery.
- Designate a family spokesperson. This person can actually be a spouse, relative or friend who serves as the main family communication point for physicians and caregivers.
- Ask questions. I encourage all my patients to ask a lot of questions. Write them down. You have a right to know the answers and you will be a better consumer of health care when you understand your diagnosis, treatment plan and options. A good provider will always take the time to answer your questions.
- Ask for privacy. The hospital is a very busy place. It is okay to ask your nurse for a few hours of privacy so you can get some sleep, an important part of recovery. As long as it does not interfere with your medical care, you should be able to get uninterrupted time to rest.
Patients who follow these tips often feel more in control of their care and have a better understanding of how they can support their own recovery.