Most hospitals are experienced treating a wide variety of problems while others specialize in particular areas such as heart bypass. Ask your health care provider if the hospital you will be admitted to is the best for the type of care you need.
Ask if your personal health care provider will be in charge of your care while you are hospitalized and if not who will be.
Be sure the physicians who will be treating you possess the specialized training and experience that qualifies them to treat your specific illness.
When hospitalized share your health history including all the medications you currently take with everyone who is treating you. Don't presume that they are aware of this information.
If surgery is planned ask how frequently the hospital and the specific surgeon perform the procedure. Research shows that the more frequently a procedure is done, the better the outcome.
Ask if you have the option of having the procedure done as an outpatient.
Be sure to ask how quickly the procedure needs to be done.
Ask to speak with someone who has undergone the surgery you are considering. This person can tell you what to expect while hospitalized and during your recovery.
Ask your health care provider if there are things you should do prior to undergoing surgery such as eliminating smoking or losing weight.
When surgery is planned have the surgeon sign his/her initials on the site to be operated on while you are awake and alert using a permanent marker. This should eliminate the possibility of wrong site surgery.
When hospitalized, patients are often asked the same information, such as name, address and date of birth on numerous occasions. Although at times you might find this annoying, provide the information, because this is a system of checks and double checks designed to keep you safe.
You should expect that all hospital personnel identify themselves and their role to you.
Infections acquired in hospitals are often the result of health care providers' failure to wash hands or not thoroughly washing them. Although it may initially feel a little uncomfortable, speak up and ask all who administer medication or treatments to please wash their hands.
Be sure that health care providers confirm your identity by examining your hospital band and asking your name before they give you any medications or treatments.
Know what time of day your medications and treatments are usually given. If you think something has been missed be sure to tell your nurse or doctor.
Before being discharged from the hospital be sure that you are clear about the medications your provider has prescribed, when to return to see your health care provider and the signs you should look for that might mean you are experiencing a complication.
Ask your provider when you can return to work, resume exercise, and driving.
Ask if you will be given a written summary of your hospitalization.
Remember if at any time something doesn't seem right, bring it to the attention of your health care provider.
Acknowledgement: Agency for Health Research and Quality.
This information is provided by the Betsy Lehman for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction within the Department of Public Health.