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6 Steps to Get the Best Hospital Care

6 Steps to Get the Best Hospital Care

    It is assumed that everyone who walks through the doors of a hospital will get the same quality of care. The reality is that the hospital is a system like any other—with imperfect people, inefficiencies, misconceptions, and miscommunication. Before you find yourself taking a planned or unplanned trip to the hospital, there are a few things you can do to get the best hospital care.

    1. Be your best advocate

    The patient-provider interaction is undergoing an unprecedented change as information becomes increasingly accessible to the general public. You are the most important person in charge of your health; be proactive in taking care of yourself. Read books and search the Internet, however evaluate the source of any information. Realize that misinformation may be deliberate or unintentional. For rare conditions, you may become more educated than non-specialist providers who may have never encountered or experienced your diagnosis.

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    2. Don’t leave home without it

    One of the important pieces of information obtained in any hospital admission is a list of medications the patient is taking. Patients unable to remember their medications may encounter potentially harmful complications. Realize that your memory may not be optimal in a stressful emergency department, especially if you are anxious or in pain. In extreme situations you may not even be conscious. Therefore take the time right now to gather your medications and generate a legible list that you keep in your wallet—pay particular attention to the name, dose, and frequency. It is also equally important to note any drug allergies on the same sheet of paper. If you have reacted to a drug, please note when this happened and the extent of your reaction.

    3. Be the best historian

    The story of your illness can change—either as you remember lost details or through the “telephone effect” as more people become involved in your care. Expect to tell the details of your circumstance at least 8-10 times if you are admitted to the emergency department. Ideally, if you are able to write down the details of your story it may reduce time and frustration as well as reduce the possibility of incorrect information being propagated in your medical records and your care.

    Specifically, providers are interested in the onset of your condition (eg, slow, gradual, rapid, fluctuating), the timeline (especially if there have been recent changes), the involved parts of your body, what treatments you have tried or were done by other providers, or any factors that made your condition better or worse. Please tell them early if you have received care in other facilities as it often takes time to access outside records.

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    4. Remind them who you are

    For various reasons it is easy for providers to lose sight of who you were before you got sick. Pictures have an incredibly profound effect on allowing providers to see you as a person and give extra motivation to help you return to that state so you can return to your friends and family.

    5. Understand before you leave

    Make sure you understand exactly what happened during your hospital course. What were the major treatments performed? What diagnoses were established or refuted? You should be provided with a discharge summary. Go over it and ask for any inconsistencies or errors to be fixed.

    This is important because these summaries are often used by future providers to piece together your past history with your current condition. Lastly, ask your provider what records of radiological studies, pathology or surgical reports, or other tests should be obtained and brought to future encounters. It may save you from unnecessary medical procedures and prevent any future confusion. Be sure to make copies of everything, providers are notorious for not returning documents and data disks.

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    6. Find a partner in health

    Your providers are limited by time, space, and energy. They may be unable to address all of your health needs during your admission. As a result, patients are often discharged and expected to follow up with their primary care provider. Many readmissions can be prevented if patients are able to follow up with a provider outside the hospital.

    For those who are financially able, please see your primary care provider 1-2 times a year. Ask them for tailored interventions you can undertake to prevent, stabilize, or reduce disease burden in your life. As always, prevention is better than cure. Lastly, ask your provider what conditions you should include along with the list of medications and allergies you keep in your wallet.

    As you begin new adventures this year, I hope this year is one of better health.

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    (Photo credit: Doctor via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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