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6 Steps to Get the Best Hospital Care

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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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    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

    A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

    To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

    1. Camping

    A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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    2. Staycation

    You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

    3. Island Getaway

    People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

    4. Fancy Resort

    Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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    5. Road Trip

    The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

    6. Charter a Boat

    If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

    7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

    If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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    8. Themed Retreats

    There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

    9. Working Honeymoon

    Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

    10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

    Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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    Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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