Preparing for Surgery or Hospitalization

July 03, 2009

Patient's medical information & file

Going to the hospital is no vacation – but both require similar planning. Review our suggested pre-hospitalization checklist.

The National Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that as many as 98,000 people die in hospitals every year because of medical errors – more than the number who die from car accidents or breast cancer. To reduce your risk of being part of that statistic, prepare a checklist and enlist the help of a healthcare advocate.

Prepare like you're going on a trip

When you go on vacation, you probably write a checklist of items to pack and things to do before you leave. Going to the hospital is no different.

Here are some items to take care of before you go to the hospital:

  • Record your medical history – Write it down so you don't forget anything. Hospital staff will ask about your current and past medical conditions and previous medical procedures.
  • List medications you take – Your doctors and nurses need to know all the medicines, vitamins, and supplements you're currently taking. Also write any drug allergies or adverse reactions you've experienced. Humana members have an easy way to keep track of these details – My Health Record on MyHumana – your secure Website. With My Health Record, you can record and print your personal medical information from one convenient and secure location.
  • Confirm surgery details – If you're having surgery, make sure you understand what's going to be done and the expected outcome. Be sure your doctor – and the doctor operating on you – are clear on the specifics.
  • Pack house shoes with non-slip soles – Socks and shoes with slick bottoms can cause you to fall.
  • Bring your insurance card – Be sure to take your Humana member ID card.

Enlist a healthcare advocate

You may want to enlist the help of a healthcare advocate. The advocate can act as your second set of eyes and ears, take notes for you – especially if you're distracted by pain or heavily sedated – and clarify your caregivers' instructions.

Your advocate doesn't need any special medical training. It's just someone you trust who knows your medical history, pays attention to details, and isn't afraid to ask questions.

Take notes before you leave the hospital

It's smart to have these items in writing before you leave the hospital:

  • Prescription instructions – If your doctor gives you a prescription, make sure you can read it. If YOU can't, your pharmacist might not be able to either.
  • Post-hospitalization care – Be sure you understand how to take care of yourself after you leave the hospital. If anything is unclear, let your doctor or nurse know right away.

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