Tags: Health Topics | hospitals | secrets | emergency room | surgeon | medicine

14 Things Hospitals Won't Tell You But You Should Know

a nurse stands before an empty emergency waiting area
(Peter Byrne/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 02 May 2019 08:08 PM

There is very little you can do to prevent a medical emergency from striking but there are certain things that are in your control – small decisions that can go a long way in cutting medical costs, making the most of the services at your disposal and ensuring you get the best medical care possible. Hospitals won't necessarily tell you what these things are but Reader's Digest has shared dozens of essential tips that you need to know when it comes to medical care.

Here are 14 of those things that hospitals won't tell you but you should probably know:

1. Go to a teaching hospital. "Teaching hospitals have lower complication rates and better outcomes," said Dr. Evan Levine, a cardiologist. This is because teaching hospitals tend to be at the forefront when it comes to research. There are also more hands on board during medical procedures thanks to the medical students and residents.

2. Research your rehab. You do not want to skimp on rehab, which is why it is important to look around before committing to a facility. "We found that rehab facilities that handle more than two dozen hip fractures a year were more than twice as likely to successfully discharge seniors within a month as less experienced facilities were," said Pedro Gozalo, a public health researcher at Brown University in Providence.

3. Don't distract medical professionals. You may want to be friendly by making conversation with the nurse, but if you are trying to engage in pleasantries while they are preparing your medications you might be causing them to make errors.

4. Read the fine print. You might have carefully selected a hospital and surgeon within your network, but you might still be slammed with hidden expenses. This is because there is no guarantee that everyone involved in your care at the hospital, such as the radiologist and pathologist, is also in the network.

5. Get specific. It is best to ask if you are officially being admitted when staying overnight in the hospital because sometimes hospitals say you are "under observation," which might not be covered by Medicare.

6. Know who you are up against. While you might believe the hospital is on your side, they are actually incentivized to keep doctors happy because they are the ones who bring in the money. Financially, the hospital's incentive is to protect its doctors if there is a complaint.

7. Bring your own medication. It is generally acceptable, and cheaper, to bring your own medicines from home. This just needs to be verified by the hospital pharmacy.

8. Check your bill, then check again. Do not just glance over your hospital bill, examine it in depth. According to Pat Palmer, CEO of Medical Billing Advocates of America, at least eight out of 10 hospital bills he sees contain an error. "Check your bill carefully. You may identify a drug you didn't take. Or you know that you discontinued a treatment on Tuesday, but you were charged for Wednesday," he said.

9. Be specific about your medication. Medical staff need to know the specifics about the medication you are taking, when you are taking them and how. This is to ensure you receive proper care. Dr. Kevin B. Jones, a surgeon with the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Primary Children's Medical Center, and the University of Utah, suggests printing out a list of exactly what medications you take at home and what time of day you take them.

10. Log it all. If you are admitted into hospital it might be a good idea to keep a notebook in which you jot down any questions and also make notes of who is entering your room and what the different doctors are telling you. This will keep you grounded if you get disorientated in the hospital and can also help when it comes to your bill.

11. Speak up. If you go to a smaller hospital and they transfer you to a different medical center you are well within your rights to speak up and demand you be taken to the closest facility that can handle your care. "What's happening is that community medical centers are sending patients instead to the big hospital that they're affiliated with, even if it's farther away," explained Levine. "It happens even when a patient is bleeding to death or having a heart attack that needs emergency care."

12. Mind the hospital food. It is always a good idea to speak to your doctor to see if there are any foods you should avoid. "There's no communication between dietary and pharmacy, and that can be a problem when you're on certain meds," Levine said.

13. Schedule your surgery for the start of the week. Hospitals tend to have less staff and experienced doctors and nurses working the weekend and holiday shifts. Furthermore, certain lab tests and other services might not be available, so, if you do have surgery coming up, try to have it scheduled for early in the week.

14. Get your paperwork before you leave. Once you have been discharged, it can be difficult to get copies of your labs, tests, and scans. Make sure you get these reports as well as your discharge summary and operative report if you had surgery before leaving the hospital.

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Hospitals won't necessarily tell you what these things are but Reader's Digest has shared dozens of essential tips that you need to know when it comes to medical care.
hospitals, secrets, emergency room, surgeon, medicine
Thursday, 02 May 2019 08:08 PM
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