Your Patient Bill of Rights states that you have the right to full information and counseling on the availability of known financial resources for your health care. Talk to your hospital’s financial counselors in order to manage and pay your bills. The bills cannot be ignored.

Do not be embarrassed to change doctors when the one you are currently using is not meeting all of your needs. It happens every day. Before you switch doctors, however, ask yourself if you might be the problem. Think about whether or not you can repair the doctor-patient relationship…ask yourself if it is worth it. Be assertive and proactive for yourself. You have a voice…use it!

Be sure to bring your health insurance ID card in addition to your completed PatientAction.com online Health History. Bring your medication containers or list of current meds you are on and their doses. Bring copies of your Health Care Advance Directives. Bring a bag of personal items that you will need, including easy to slip on slippers, and a pair of inexpensive flip flops for taking showers. If you are having surgery, be sure to bring loose fitting clothing to wear on your way home. Bring a certificate showing if you donated your own blood for your surgical procedure. Bring the names & phone numbers of family & friends. Bring paper & pencil with you so you can write down all of your questions that need to be answered. Leave all valuables at home.

Most families who have experienced hospice care of a loved one will share beautiful and heartwarming stories about their hospice experience and the “angels” who do the very holy work of caring for the terminally ill with compassion and love. Be assured your husband’s hospice team will use whatever appropriate treatment and comfort measures they can as they dignify death and support your husband and your entire family in the process.

They will use whatever appropriate treatment and comfort measures they can as they dignify death and support your father and the entire family in the process.

Bring with you your PatientAction.com online Health History, health insurance ID card, a list of symptoms you are currently having, either a written list or the containers of all the medications (with the doses) that you are currently taking which includes any herbs, supplements, vitamins, and other over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, your past and current health information including the written results of any lab or diagnostic tests you may have taken. Asking someone you trust to accompany you to act as your patient advocate is always a good idea.

You should go to the ER or call 911 for any of the following conditions: Chest pain, heart attack or suspected heart attack, poisoning, severe shortness of breath, uncontrolled or severe bleeding, suspected overdose of medication, severe burns, high fever (especially in infants), loss of consciousness, head injury, seizures, diabetic complications such an Insulin Shock or ketoacidosis, gun shot or stab wounds, severe & persistent abdominal pain.

Doctors will be unable to accurately predict the actual outcome of the brain injury resulting from the stroke your husband suffered. Even with the slightest of brain injuries, there can be subtle changes in the patient’s personality, intellectual functioning or mental state. Life with your husband as you have known it has changed and getting it back to exactly where it was prior to the accident is unlikely.

You will be given medications throughout the procedure. You will neither feel or remember what takes place.

HIPAA, the Health Information Portability & Accountability Act of 1996, protects your personal information by holding EVERYONE in the health care arena legally responsible for maintaining your confidentiality.

As a patient, you absorb a lot less information when you are anxious, vulnerable, in pain, afraid or undressed. You need an advocate to speak up for you when you are unable to speak up for yourself.

There are many questions that need to be asked when your physician recommends that you have a diagnostic test. The 3 most important ones are:What is my main problem? What do I need to do? Why is it important for me to do this?

According to the Patient Bill of Rights, the facility is required to provide you or your patient designee, upon request, access to all information contained in your medical records. You are also entitled to have copies of all of your medical records. While you are entitled to your records, you may not be able to access them on your specific time table. Ask your bedside nurse to help you. If necessary, call for the nursing supervisor or hospital administrator. Some facility charge fees to provide you with your records.

Call your local hospital or ask people you meet for referrals. You can also call the American Medical Association. There may be a local Medical Society in your county or city.  Make an appointment to interview a prospective doctor. Be prepared to pay a fee for this meeting.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. The flu is caused by a virus.

A new minimally invasive endoscopic procedure is now being done. An endoscopic tube is inserted through a tiny incision. Using a microscopic camera the surgeon can repair the spine.

The hospital social worker and a home health nurse will come out to the house right after discharge to do an initial evaluation, determine needs, and plan accordingly through the use of a home health care agency.

You are correct. If you ignore the inevitability of death and do not have this important conversation with your loved one, you leave that person alone to face this most difficult final journey without the requisite love and support so critical to a peaceful death. There could be nothing worse than facing the end of your life with everyone around you pretending that it is not happening.

While prostate cancer does run in families, your husband’s fate from the same illness is not inevitable. He should be sure to have a physical exam each year (or more often) which includes a PSA blood test. That simple blood test and physical exam can detect disease in its early stages and give him his best hope for a complete cure.

Do not be embarrassed to change doctors when the one you are currently using is not meeting all of your needs. It happens every day. Be assertive and proactive for yourself. You have a voice…use it!

Yes, you have the right to refuse treatment or care in the hospital. However, be sure you understand the consequences of that refusal. And know that your insurance company may refuse to pay for your hospitalization if you refuse care on a regular basis.

While seeking out alternative medical treatment may be a good thing, it should be used as a adjunct along with standard conventional medical treatment. Discuss this alternative treatment with your personal doctor.

Go visit your friend! She needs you now more than ever. Tell her you don’t know what to say but you are there because you care and you’ll be with her through thick & thin. These are very comforting words for a terminally ill patient to hear. Oftentimes, a dying patient doesn’t even want to talk. They just want to know people care.

If you accept this advocacy role, you should plan on being with your loved one as much as possible. Use your voice to ask about diagnosis, prognosis, medications and diagnostic tests. Ask the questions that your loved one is unable to ask for herself and be sure to share the answers with her when she is able to understand.

Before you sign the consent form for any invasive procedure be sure your doctor has explained the procedure to you. Just like with any legal “contract” you should read the fine print… the ” Terms & Conditions of Service “. Do not let anyone rush you through this process, putting you under pressure to sign something you haven’t had time to digest or understand.

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