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8 Things A Doctor Wants You To Know About Staying In Hospital

Because we know the real secrets of the hospital.

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1. It helps if you bring a list of your regular prescribed medications with you.

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Whether you're heading to an outpatient appointment or to A&E, it's always helpful bring along a list of the medications you take, and any allergies you have. It's even better if you can write out the dosage and frequency of your medications. In stressful situations, you may not remember everything, so a list or the actual meds will help you and your doctor.

2. Stick around your hospital bed in the morning so you don't miss ward round.


This doesn't necessarily mean you need to sit glued to your seat, but ward round is an important part of the hospital process – and the best time to speak to your doctor about any questions or concerns you have.

It may seem like the team is quickly jumping from patient to patient, but in reality, we are coming to review each person in turn. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment or anything else, now is the time to tell us.

In the afternoon doctors are busy organising the different jobs that need doing for every patient, so it can be harder to grab an opportunity to talk to us then.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for painkillers or other drugs if you need them.

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Dispensing drugs works in two ways in a hospital: Some medications are given to you regularly at set times during your stay, and some medications that are given to you PRN – which is abbreviated Latin for "when necessary".

PRN medications can include pain killers, anti-sickness tablets, and a lot more. It's important to tell your nurse if you're in pain or feeling sick so they can give you the medication to help you.

The PRN medications have certain limits so you'll only get given them according to the prescribed frequency i.e. if a medication can only be given four times a day, you will only receive it four times a day.

4. Find out when "handover" time is in your hospital.

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Handover is when nurses and doctors will switch over from the day team to the night team, or between different shifts. During this time, doctors and nurses have a lot on their minds, so if you need something and it is handover time, it might be best to save up any big questions until the new staff are available to help you out. Unless it's urgent, in which case get definitely come and bother one of us right away.

5. Make sure you know who your main medical team is.


Your main medical team will be the doctors that are currently treating you, who know about your case and the plan for your treatment. The on-call medical team are the ones who cover "out of hours" and are called to see patients that need something urgently. These doctors, usually working nights and weekends, are generally not aware of every patient's case.

If you or your relative want to talk to a doctor regarding your care, it is best to ask your main medical team – they'll be able to give you the best answers. But, of course, anyone can help or point you in the right direction.

6. It's best to assume that your hospital doctor doesn't have all the information that your GP does.

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Not all GPs and hospitals have synced medical records, so things that your personal GP may have a record of won't always be shared with your local hospital.

This may mean that doctors have to ask you the same questions that other doctors have asked or have discussions that you've already had with your GP. Most hospitals will only keep records of your previous hospital admissions and if you haven't had any, they may not have any of your medical history at all. So don't get annoyed if you're answering the same questions more than once, we're just trying to make sure you get everything you need.

7. Try your best to be patient, and maybe bring some reading material with you.


Sometimes you feel like you're just waiting around and that's why its called being a "patient", right? The truth is that everything is happening behind the scenes. Nurses are drawing up medications, doctors are running around requesting scans, phlebotomists are taking bloods, and the labs are analysing said blood.

Unfortunately, everything takes time in a hospital and you have to trust in your doctors that they are doing their best to provide you with the best healthcare that they can. So maybe bring a laptop or some books to make the time pass quicker.

8. You are allowed to ask questions.


This may seem obvious, but sometimes patients can be afraid to ask their doctors questions. Simply, no question is a stupid question. You are allowed to ask why you are receiving a certain treatment, why there has been a change of plans, or any other question you want. As a patient, you have a right to understand what is going on and your doctor is the best person to explain it to you.

This post was written by a doctor, although it may not be representative of all doctors' opinions.