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Ensure that you get quality care

February 01, 2010

To make the most of hospital-based medicine:

* Don't allow a lack of familiarity to prevent you from getting your questions answered. If it's on your mind, it's not a stupid question -- so go ahead and ask.

* Regardless of who's caring for you, have a friend or family member act as an advocate for you while you're in the hospital. An advocate speaks out on your behalf when necessary, ensuring that procedures and processes are done in a timely manner and asking important questions that might have been overlooked.

* Call your primary care doctor if you feel the need to talk to him or her while you're in the hospital. Simply because your regular physician isn't heading up your care doesn't mean he or she can't participate in it.

* If you're uncomfortable with the hospitalist that you've been assigned, ask to change. Although policies differ from one institution to the next, no hospital wants unhappy patients. More likely than not, you'll be allowed to switch doctors.

* Get involved in the discharge process. Make sure you fully understand what medications you're supposed to take when you leave the hospital and any other special instructions the hospitalist gives you.

* Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician before you leave the hospital. If nothing else, the visit will allow your doctor to familiarize himself or herself with what transpired while you were there.

-- Valerie Ulene

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