1. Have an up-to-date Medical Power of Attorney or Advanced Medical Directive (“Living Will”).
These documents entrust decisions about your care to a person you designate in the event you cannot make medical decisions yourself. Advise your family of your designation so that person is notified when decisions must be made.
2. Make sure your name, identifying information and all other information is completely accurate during hospital check-in.
Some problems involving hospital care begin as clerical errors. A seemingly small error can create a major treatment crisis. Reduce the chance of error by carefully reviewing your hospital admissions paperwork and checking your hospital wristband for errors.
3. Understand your health insurance coverage before you get sick.
It is important that you understand how much you may owe at discharge and all limitations and exclusions in your insurance policy. Your policy may require you to obtain preauthorization for medical procedures. In addition, you may need supplemental coverage or disability coverage in the event of a long recovery. Review your health coverage now. It is too late to make critical changes after you get sick.
4. Save any documents you receive regarding your care or billing.
Retain all of your hospital documentation in the event of a fee dispute, insurance dispute or medical malpractice claim. Documents can be easily misplaced in the confusion of care and recovery. Ask someone you trust to help you keep your documentation organized.
5. Ask for a second opinion if you are unsure about your diagnosis or treatment.
You have the right to speak with another doctor or caregiver if you are uncomfortable with the diagnosis or treatment recommendations being made.
6. Advocate for quality care.
It is important to speak up for yourself in the hospital. If you have a concern about the quality of care you receive, speak to a doctor or nursing supervisor. If you are unable to advocate for yourself due to the nature of your illness, medications or treatments, have a friend or family member stay with you. Many hospitals have a designated advocate on staff. If you feel your concerns are not addressed ask to speak with a patient advocate.
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