Communicating With Us
The more you communicate with your doctor and nurse, the better their chances of helping you. By being a proactive patient, you are best equipped to avoid the stress that can accompany misunderstandings and miscommunication between patients, physicians and other healthcare professionals.
In a hospital, the person who provides the majority of hands-on care, and sees patients the most, is the nurse. Nurses generally work eight or 12 hour shifts; when one shift ends, the incoming shift receives reports on all patients treated during the previous shift.
Learn the names of your nurses, the length of their shift and whether they will be regularly assigned to you during your hospital stay. You may have questions for your nurse; if she does not know the answer, she will forward your query to the appropriate person. If you are not satisfied with the answer you receive, or no response is forthcoming, ask to speak to a representative from the Patient Relations department.
Patient Relations is a liaison between hospital administration and the medical staff. The department’s primary responsibility is to assist patients and assure that their needs and concerns are addressed.
Maintaining communication with your healthcare provider can substantially improve your health and wellness. Before initiating treatment with a healthcare professional, consider preparing a list of items that address the following:
- Identify your symptoms.
- Obtain relevant medical records.
- Prepare a list of medications you are taking. Include prescription drugs, over the-counter medications, herbs and supplements as well as dosages.
- Make your physician and nurse aware of any drug allergies.
- Speak openly with your physicians about your desire to be involved in treatment decisions.
- Inform your medical team about alternative or complementary care and previous treatments received.
- Seek counseling or support for difficult health care decisions; this may involve obtaining advice from a relative, close friend or professional advisor.
- Complete a living will or advance directive.
- Understand your condition and the risks and benefits of your treatment options.
- Ask for another opinion.