Being admitted to the hospital can be very frightening. Things seem to happen very quickly once the decision to admit is made. Sometimes, things are happening so fast that you may not know what questions to ask, especially if this is your first time as a hospital patient. Here are five important questions to ask to help you better understand your stay, ease your concerns and help you have a great experience:
- AM I IN AN OBSERVATION OR INPATIENT STATUS?
Your admission status is determined by criteria set by CMS (Centers for Medicare) and insurance companies. It is important to know your admission status as it will make a difference in the cost of your stay. Being admitted under an observations status means that further testing is needed to rule out a condition or illness and once results are back, discharge is likely. For example, if someone comes to the hospital with chest pain, they are often admitted under observation status to rule out a heart attack. Generally, an observation stay will mean higher cost to the consumer. An inpatient status usually occurs when an individual is very sick and a hospital stay of greater than two or three days is anticipated.
- WHO WILL BE MY DOCTOR?
While in the hospital, you will be assigned to an attending physician. This will be the main doctor in charge of coordinating your care. Every hospital is different when it comes to physician privileges. There can be any combination of hospitalists (doctors employed by the hospital), private physicians who are employed by the hospital system, or private community doctors who are allowed to see patients in the hospital. Chances are you will be treated by a doctor that you are not familiar with, so it is important to get acquainted. Always remember that you have the right to a second opinion or to switch attending physicians.
- WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THE NEXT 24 HOURS?
Most of your testing should occur within 24 hours of your admission. This can be anything from blood work to x-rays or other radiology test to something like a stress test. Unfortunately, testing is scheduled as time allows which means that meal or rest time may be interrupted. It is good to know what to expect so that if you are called for your x-ray just as your breakfast arrives, it is not completely unexpected. Your nurses and physician should be updating you on your plan of care regularly, however don’t ever hesitate to ask.
- WHAT IS THE VISITATION POLICY?
Every hospital is different when it comes to visitation. You have the right to have a loved one be at your bedside, however some hospitals still have rooms shared by two patients and for the privacy of the other patient, there may be policies in place for overnight visitation. Knowing this ahead of time will help you plan with your family and friends for visitation.
- WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM MY NURSING CARE?
Just as with physicians, there may be different models of nursing care in different hospitals. Registered Nurses are in charge of your primary care, however you may also experience care from a Licensed Practical Nurse and a Certified Nursing Assistant. Familiarizing yourself with their roles and what to expect from each of them will help you feel comfortable with the daily routine and who to ask for when you have certain needs. For example, if you need medication, only the nurse can help you with this.
It is always our objective to provide you with a great experience in the hospital. It is never anyone’s intention to not keep you informed or make you feel uncomfortable. Great communication with your care team will ease your mind and help you feel satisfied with your stay.