Hospital Stays Made Better and Healthier

in Hospital

Three people I know will be staying in the hospital for a few days next week. These appointments were made a couple of months in advance so there is none of those awful trips to the Emergency Room.

Interestingly, however, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a report which stated that about 2.3 million people who entered the hospital over a year's time, were re-entering after being discharged within 7 days. About one in ten of thee cases stemmed from medical or surgical complications from their stay in the hospital.

Here are two steps you can take to make your hospital stay healthier.

First, find a hospital that suits your needs.

I interviewed an obstetrician this week for an article I'm writing for a weekly paper, and he said there are good doctors in every major hospital. If a woman is pregnant it's more important for her to find a hospital where she is comfortable and is close to her family.

The hospital is where key decisions are made so it pays to take time to study the one you want to attend. You can compare hospitals at this link. This web site can give you data on the outcomes for specific medical surgeries and conditions. You can see how other patients recovered and what you can expect when the unexpected takes place.

  • Is your hospital accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?
  • Are 70 percent of the doctors board certified physicians?
  • Are 60 percent of the nursing staff registered nurses?

Your second step is to investigate costs before you go to the hospital.

Contact the hospital billing department and find out what expenses you can expect for your condition. What is the room charge? What other costs are covered by the room fee and which are not? For example, if it is for an over the counter drug, bring it from home.

To save costs, stay within your network of providers and check with your insurance provider. Some plans don't cover your stay unless you clear this with them in advance. Inquire about your deductible.

When you receive your billing look for:

  • Miscellaneous fees
  • Calculation errors
  • Duplicate billings
  • Fees relating to routine care that was not performed
  • Question and ask
  • Speak with the hospital administrator if you run into problems with the billing department.

Your third step is to prepare for your hospital stay.

A month or so before your hospital stay ask your doctor if you should stop taking certain medications or nutritional supplements. Make sure you understand what the doctor's explanation is about exercise and alcohol after your stay.

If you're having surgery, meet or at least talk to your anesthesiologist before your surgery. Make sure your anesthesiologist knows about these conditions to avoid complications:

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Diabetes and Heart disease
  • Reflux and Hiatal hernia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Past anesthesia reactions

A few days before your surgery, pack a suitcase. Here is what you will want to


  • A sleep mask and ear plugs so you can rest and not be distracted.
  • A notebook to log in hospital activity such as treatments, medications and supplies. This will come in handy when you receive your bill and you can compare you notes.
  • A copy of important forms: durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, mental health power of attorney, and HIPAA medical records release forms.
  • Your medical information such as conditions, allergies, medications, health insurance, emergency contacts.
  • A portable music player: cassette, MP3, IPod.
  • Reading materials, games cards.
  • Cell phone to avoid paying hospital phone fees. Bring the charger.
  • Something comfortable from home such as your pillow or a robe.

When you pack, pretend you are sending you child to camp and put your name on everything.

Finally, partner with someone who can help you throughout your hospitalization. This person is your advocate. Many hospitals have cut their nursing staff and may need them to help you. Chose a person who is able to speak up for you when issues require action. If you do not have a member of your family or a friend to do this some home health care companies do have paid companions who can stay with you.

You do not have to enjoy your hospital stay but you can make sure it does not cause extra problems. 

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Ruthan Brodsky has 1 articles online

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Hospital Stays Made Better and Healthier

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This article was published on 2010/04/02