I have to ask, because I'm going to be moving to a rural part of a state with a reputation of having notoriously bad hospitals, how do you reccomend people advocate for others and themselves when they don't know anything about medical conditions? I'm trying to prepare myself in advance.
Get things in writing and have a witness. If you don't think that will be possible, invest in a digital tape recorder and keep records that way. (Do make sure the doctor knows that conversations are recorded). Make the doctor put all diagnoses and instructions in writing and if at all possible, have them signed.
Keep asking questions until you feel you understand the answer to your satisfaction. Get copies of all your records (preferably electronically) and keep them in case you need a second opinion without delay. Insist test results be explained to you. Be a nuisance if necessary, abet a polite one. Don't get shrill (you'll be dismissed as hysterical no matter the situation or how reasonable your concerns
) but keep your tone firm. If you want something done, phrase it as an instruction rather than a request. "Excuse me, I need X" rather than "Please can I have some X".
Go to the computer. WebMD and the like can be a real asset. It might not give you all the answers, but it can tell you what questions you should be asking. Print things out and take them with you. Get yourself a notebook if necessary to keep everything together, with some scratch paper for taking notes. Keep in mind though, you can easily shoot yourself in the foot here. Remember the adage 'If you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras'. It's more likely you have the flu presenting in an uncommon way than it is for you to be suffering whatever you saw on House last week.
Be polite to nurses and admins. In some ways, they know more than the doctors.
I have to agree. While I do have a medical background, it's pretty dated, and I don't automatically recognise the names/purposes of current drugs.
I don't have a medical background, but I do know the commonly given drugs that members of my family have reactions to and enough to know what to ask in addition to ensure they are being given the right dosage. If it doesn't sound familiar, I can then make the quick comment, 'will that react with the ____ the patient is on or with the _____ condition the patient suffers from?' Then my concerns can either be quickly alleviated or the nurse can do a check, which at least 1 in 10 times results in the nurse either giving something else or having a discussion with the doctor.
Or I can give the nurse the quick warning of, 'you can give her Demerol if you like, but she won't be able to respond coherently at that point' and let the nurse determine if it's a good idea or if it's better to give Tylenol and wait an hour until the rest of the tests get performed.
They gave her Demerol in the hospital on Black Friday. Yesterday she called me from the rehab center to ask how she'd got there, as she didn't remember anything between Thanksgiving dinner and waking up that morning.