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How To Get the Respect You Deserve in the Hospital

by Greg Cryns

Running a hospital is a very difficult and complicated business. Having said that, there is no reason you should not get the absolute best care you deserve in any hospital. We are not talking about 

buying a bag of peanuts here folks. We are talking about a lot of pain and suffering incurred by the hospital patients before and after they are admitted to the hospital.

We are also taking about a place that tries to help people with very acute and life threatening diseases and inuries. However, we should not get out our hankies to weep for the hospital staff. 

Imprint on your mind that you DO have the right to ask lots of questions and to expect answers in a reasonable length of time. If they use medical jargon in answers, ask them to explain what they mean.

You DO have the right to tell your doctors and nurses that you will play a major role in your care. Ask them about treatments and their prognosis (what they expect). DON'T worry about what your doctor or nurse may think if you ask a lot of questions. 

Surveys show that people who ask a lot of questions get better hospital care! Think about that. YOU are in charge of your life and your body. Keep in mind that nearly 100,000 hospital patients dies every year from medical errors like wong medications and botched surgery. Does that pull you out of your complacency? It should.

When the doctor prescribes a new medication, ask him or her questions like "Why do you want me to take this?" and "What is different about this drug from the last one?" and "What are the side effects of this drug?" If you ask many questions you can prevent mistakes.

And mistakes do happen. I was in the hospital with a serious kidney problem a few years ago. My doctor (an excellent surgeon) ordered a prescription for me while his students and nurses were present. I saw the head nurse give a questioning look. When the doctor left the room my nurse said, "We NEVER give out that drug in the kidney unit!" She asked the intern doctor to change the prescription and saved the main doctor some embarrassment. 

There are lots of people who work in a hospital who look like doctors and nurses. Some of them are not. If a new person starts talking to you about your condition say "What is your job in this hospital?" If you think the person does not have the right training to handle your care, ask for a replacement. To do so is fully in your rights.

Try to have your spouse or good friend present with you at all times during your hospital stay. Remember that if you are severely injured or if you are going to have significant surgery, you will not be thinking as clearly as you can. Pain shrouds clear thinking. You need someone to run interference for you, someone who can closely monitor your care. Such people are known as HOSPITAL ADVOCATES. Get one on your side. You have the right to have your advocate in your room at all times. The hospital cannot rule that out.

Your medical RIGHTS include (among others):

You have the right to say "NO" to any medical procedure.

You have the right to see your medical records.

You have the right to check yourself out of the hospital at any time, even against your doctor's wishes.

You have the right to fire your doctor.

You have the right not to be treated by a medical student.

Remember this: if you die in a hospital you will be the last person to know about it.


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