Shorter hospital stays related to cost containment with managed care, make another area important. That is patient education.

In hospitals who set the highest standards and have the budgetary ability for its support,there is a patient education department or at least the ability to provide to patient educational material. In most hospitals the nursing standards includes the provision of education to patients and families along with the appropriate literature related to their illness and incorporates this into nursing care.

Budget cutting that excludes the process of patient education falls short in meeting the needs of patients and fails miserably in our health care system.

What does this mean to a patient? It means from the time you enter a hospital until and including their discharge, there should be ongoing information provided.

It begins with instruction on the use of your call bell, with essential confirmation that you understand by feedback to your nurse. All the questions you are asked provide healthcare staff of important information, such as any allergies you may have. A wrist band should include your name and allergies.

Every procedure that is done to you as a patient should be preceded by an explanation as to what it is evaluating and how it is done.

Everytime a medication is administered to you, its name and action should be explained along with the provision of printed educational material.

When there is a change in your condition requiring a new plan of care you and your family should have input into it.

If you or your family member needs additional support not available through the hospital such as your community or religious support, they can be notified. Patient confidentiality prevents the hospital from making your stay there public.

Do not fear the hospital environment, but be alert to anything unusual, if your medication looks different or if you are suddenly being whisked off for a test you have not been advised of, notify your nurse. Make sure the hospital staff uses your last name in your care with frequent checks of your ID band.

When your injury or illness causes you pain. It is best to request medication before it becomes too severe as it will take time for the nurse to visit you and then obtain it for you. They should be using a pain scale to assess your pain and to be sure your pain relief is adequate.

Remember your nurse and your doctor should also be your teachers.

It is critical that any sudden pain or distress, such as chest pain or shortness of breath,be addressed promptly and it is most appropriate to call out for help if there is a delay in answering your call bell.

At the time of your discharge from the hospital, which can be overnight or a day or two.You should be given in writing discharge instructions with a verbal review for you and your family It should include new medications how they are to be taken and matching literature for reinforcement. It should advise diet and activity level, as well as return visit with doctor. There should be phone numbers and instructions for contact in the event of any complications.

In this harried time in health care try to understand the hospital has to triage in the emergency room,that means that the most critically ill patient must be seen first and often that means you must wait your turn. For non emergency type health problems it is best to use the office visit.

Ask questions freely, the harried staff will appreciate this and will give you clarifications rather then having things come undone through misunderstandings.

We are all part of this system as it is today,those who care for you also get ill and experience the same frustrations as everyone else. But, with all its imperfections, we have made great advances in healthcare and most of us will have a better quality of life because of it.