• July 7, 2014 /  Basics

    Talking with your Doctor – If you are hospitalized

    This is a continuing series using information from the booklet written by the National Institute on Aging working with the National Institutes of Health called: Talking with Your Doctor. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH Publication No. 05-3452 August 2005 (Reprinted April 2010)

    This is a continuing series using information from the booklet written by the National Institute on Aging working with the National Institutes of Health called: Talking with Your Doctor. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH Publication No. 05-3452 August 2005 (Reprinted April 2010)

    The pamphlet does not mention this but I believe one of the more important things you will need to do is notify the person who is your agent on your medical power of attorney, commonly known as an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) or the person who is going to act as your advocate. It does not matter whether or not your visit to the hospital is a routine surgery, you need to make sure your agent knows the details. The will need to know the questions to ask in the event that you are not able to ask. They will need to know the name of your primary physician (PrP) and you need to let your PrP know your advocate may be contacting him/her in the case of emergency. While your PrP may not have any authority at the hospital he/she may have vital information that will help the hospital doctor in assessing and prescribing treatment for you.

    The pamphlet suggests that hospitals have routines and you may be able to make requests of service within those routines. For non-emergency visits there is generally a preparation period. During that time you can ask some of your questions. If you ask for the normal times your doctor is likely to visit you can prepare to have some of the more difficult questions ready when he/she visits. During emergency visits your advocate will need to ask the questions for you if you are not alert. At a minimum  and if possible, they should at least be present when the doctor explains what they are going to do and the reasons for their procedures.

    Questions for non-emergency visits

    • How long can I expect to be in the hospital?
    • When will I see my doctor?
    • What doctors and health professionals will I see?
    • What is the daily routine in this part of the hospital?

    Questions for emergency visits

    • Will you talk to my primary doctor about my care?
    • Do I need to arrange any further care? (it has been my experience that the discharge nurse or social worker will let you know)
    • May I get instructions for further care in writing? (I have found that the hospitals I have worked with all provide written instructions when they discharge you. The issues I have seen is that the patient is not usually alert enough or too distracted to ask questions at this time. This is the time for your advocate to ask. If they were not present when the doctor or staff came through then have them call the discharge nurse or social worker to ask the questions)
    • Is there someone here who speaks my language and can explain the instructions? (I am assuming here that the person reading this is advocating on behalf of a patient who doe not understand English. Hospitals are required to provide a translator or at least have the instructions written in the language of the patient. This is another good reason to have an advocate)

    Second Opinions

    This is directly from the pamphlet:

    When surgery is recommended, patients often seek a second opinion. Hearing the views of two different doctors can help you decide what’s best for you. In fact, your insurance plan may require it. Doctors are used to this practice, and most will not be insulted by your request for a second opinion. Your doctor may even be able to suggest other doctors who can review your case.

    Always remember to check with your insurance provider in advance to find out whether a second opinion is covered under your policy, if there are restrictions to which doctors you can see, and if you need a referral form from your primary doctor.”

    doctor consults with patient

    Next time: Practical Things

    Posted by Michael Storz @ 8:00 am

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *