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Five ways to prep for a hospital admission

When a baby arrives, clinicians recommend that new moms and dads prepare a go-bag as preparation is key to endure stressful times. The same approach should be taken in case you need emergency care.

A hospital stay can be a daunting experience. Having a plan can significantly reduce safety errors. If you create a plan, you will be better equipped for your experience.

Here are five things to consider to keep you alert, informed and organized.

1. Have your medications and medical history ready

Bring a list of medications and current and past medical illnesses and surgeries with to the emergency department. So much can be gleaned from this information. Having it in written form will also spare you from constantly repeating this information to various members of the care team.

2. Identify which doctor is in charge of your care

If you have a complicated medical situation or there is difficulty diagnosing your issue, numerous clinicians may be involved in your care. However, one doctor is primarily responsible. Find out who that is. Also, remember that residents - regardless of how knowledgeable, communicative and helpful they may seem - are never in charge of your care.

3. Take action

Don't assume that your doctors and nurses are communicating and sharing notes. It is appropriate to confirm that your information is passed between professionals. Just be polite.

4. Observe shared decision-making

Tests, procedures and treatments should be made in concert with your health care providers. You should be an active participant in this process. If you aren't comfortable with a suggested treatment, ask if there are less invasive, painful and expensive alternatives. This goes for surgery, too.

5. Know your rights

You will likely see the Patient Bill of Rights posted around the hospital. The key highlights include: the right to emergency care without regard to the ability to make payment, the right to receive respectful care, to be treated without discrimination, to understand your care and to refuse treatment.

Karen Friedman, MD, is vice chair for education, residency program director and an asssociate professor of medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. She recently co-authored The Informed Patient: A Complete Guide to a Hospital Stay.

"Tests, procedures and treatments should be made in concert with your health care providers. You should be an active participant in this process."
— Karen Friedman, MD
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