1. Why is this test being done?
Before having any test, understand its purpose and find out how the results will affect your care. Especially if it is an invasive procedure, ask if there are any risks from the test itself and if there is another way to get the information needed.
2. What are the results of my tests?
If you had tests done, ask for the results and for someone to go over them with you so you understand them. Request a written copy of results to keep with your medical records.
3. Have you washed your hands?
Before anyone touches you ask, "Have you washed your hands?" It may be hard to do, but it could prevent a life-threatening infection.
4. Who will be taking care of me?
Your team can include the head doctor (also called an "attending"), fellows, residents, medical students, nurse practitioners, nurses, and nursing assistants. It can be very confusing. Ask for, or keep, a list of who is providing your care. Just like in baseball, it's hard to keep track without a program!
5. When will my tubes be removed?
lf you have any tubes coming into your body (IV, urinary catheter), ask when they can be taken out This will reduce the chances that you will get an infection.
6. What are the medications I'm taking?
Ask for a list of all of the medications that they are going to be giving you and have the nurse tell you what each is for. Pain medicines, sleeping pills, and stool softeners are often prescribed on an "as needed" basis. You are in the driver's seat as to whether you want these. The fewer medicines you take, the fewer side effects you will experience.
7. Who is performing my operations?
Before having surgery, ask who will be doing it and exactly what will be done. You have the right to know whether your surgery will be performed by the hand of your medical team or a resident. If you aren’t comfortable with the answer, ask to speak to the head of the team.
8. Are there any support services for patients?
Many hospitals have integrative or complementary health departments that offer all kinds of programs, from bedside yoga to nutritional counseling, which can be a tremendous support to your emotional health.
9. Could you explain that again?
Some healthcare providers can forget that you may not have a medical degree! Medical terminology that seems obvious to someone working in a hospital is like a foreign language to most patients. Keep asking for things to be clarified if you don't understand exactly what they mean.
10. When can I go home?
While a hospital is a great place to be when you need to be there, getting out as soon as you can is also important. Fewer days in the hospital means fewer days for you to pick up something you didn't come in with.