Taking a few necessary precautions will set up your acute care team for success.
No one wants to think about ending up in the hospital. But the more you’ve thought about it — and the more prepared you are — the better you’ll be able to equip the medical team treating you for acute care.
“You never know when you’re going to be hospitalized,” said Dr. Jordan Anderson, a hospitalist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “But to the extent that you can be, it’s important to be as prepared as possible — that’s what I wish I could tell my future patients.”
Anderson is as a hospitalist, meaning he’s a physician who works in the hospital setting and treats a wide array of illnesses and conditions. Hospitalists admit patients, manage their care and coordinate with specialists as needed. (Anderson likes to think of a hospitalist as the quarterback of your care team.) From his perspective, there are three things that a patient can do before they’re admitted for acute care to make their stay as efficient as possible.
1. Have an updated list of daily medications handy.
“You’d be surprised at how many patients come into the hospital and don’t know what medications they’re taking every day.”
“When we admit a patient from the emergency department, we want to know what medications the patient has been taking daily,” Anderson said. “Oftentimes some of the issues that can land people in the hospital are actually a function of their medications — whether it’s a side effect or not taking them correctly — so that can be helpful for us diagnostically. But also, we want to make sure that if a patient’s supposed to be on a medication, that they continue to receive it while they’re in the hospital.”
Anderson recommends having an up-to-date list on your phone or writing down your medications on an index card and keeping them in your wallet. “That is always tremendously helpful for us — you’d be surprised at how many patients come into the hospital and don’t know what medications they’re taking every day.”
2. Be sure that someone — a friend or family member — can be in communication with your care team.
“It’s so helpful if that person can be in the room with us when we are round, or even just available by phone.”
Especially when a patient is older, Anderson said having access to a family member or friend who’s knowledgeable about the patient can be helpful for the care team who’s trying to piece together what’s bringing a patient into the hospital.
“Typically, it’s going to be between 8 – 11 a.m. when we are rounding,” Anderson said. “It’s so helpful if that person can be in the room with us when we are round, or even just available by phone. And in the event that the patient has dementia or memory loss, we want to be sure that we’re able to talk to that person every day, as the patient might not be able to give an accurate update of what’s going on. If they’re available when we’re rounding, it streamlines that whole process.”
3. Be sure to follow up with your primary care doctor for continuation of care.
“We always try to schedule a primary care appointment within one or two weeks of a patient’s discharge.”
You’ll see different doctors in the hospital than the ones that you see for routine care, so it’s essential that you ensure that your primary care physician receives your discharge papers to get the full context of what occurred during your stay in the hospital.
“We always try to schedule a primary care appointment within one or two weeks of a patient’s discharge, and it’s really vital that they take all of the information we give them when they’re discharged to that appointment — sometimes when we send it to the primary care clinics, it doesn’t get into the doctor’s hands. And it’s critical to keep that appointment,” Anderson said. “Sometimes patients get home and say, ‘I’m fine, I just want to move on,’ but it’s really important to keep that primary care physician in the loop.”
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Vanderbilt Health is the most comprehensive health system in the Southeast, including the leading hospitals for adults and children. Vanderbilt experts are making each patient’s health care personal, whether in one of the system’s seven hospitals or more than 200 clinics across the region.