Tips for taking charge over your hospital stay

November 4, 2015

No one wants to be in hospital no matter how much the personnel work at making it a warm and friendly environment. However, if you have to spend some time in hospital, these tips may help you contribute to decisions.

Tips for taking charge over your hospital stay

Controlling your stay

In our mind’s eye, not one of us sees ourselves as being hospital bound. You need to be assertive — to feel that you are a partner in the decisions. Being in a hospital bed can sap you of energy and spirit but it shouldn't hinder your thoughts or determination. So be as strong as you can, and emerge faster, healthier and with a sense of control.

Finding the best hospital

Seeking out a first-rate medical centre, even if it means travel, extra expense or switching doctors, could be one of the most important decisions you make. Here are some issues to explore:


Is the facility evaluated by the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation ( This independent group promotes excellence in health care and the effective use of resources in health services organizations nationally and internationally.


Has the hospital been successful in treating conditions like yours? How often does it provide the type of care you need? High volume is linked to quicker recovery as well as to lower complication and mortality rates.


What’s the background of the surgical team? The nurse-to-patient ratio? Are there ­social workers and patient advocates? Does the facility look generally clean? For reports on the operations of health care organizations, includ­ing hospitals and community-based health service facilities, consult the Canadian Institute for Health Information ( CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit organization working to improve the Canadian health care system by providing quality, reliable and timely health information.


Do you need specialized care? Teaching hospitals affiliated with top medical schools are the centres where the most specialized and complicated care is concentrated. These facilities tend to do the most difficult procedures and give the seriously ill the best options.


Is your doctor on the hospital staff? If not, can you have a say in who’s assigned to your case?


Can you choose when to schedule your stay? If so, try to avoid holidays, when hospitals tend to be short-staffed, and steer clear of teaching hospitals in early July, when residents begin their formal training.

The details count

Actions you take before and during your time in the hospital can make a big difference in the length of your stay.
To begin, see if a procedure can be done on an outpatient basis or on the same day you're admitted. Try to do pre-op tests before admittance, saving hospital time as you await ­results.

Have copies of previous medical tests so they don't have to be repeated at additional ­inconvenience to you.
For those with additional health-insurance coverage, find out what it covers in terms of a semi-private or private room, or special services like a sitter or private nurse. In the hospital, keep track of what is being done.

Don't be afraid to ask what that pill is that you've been requested to take and why. Mistakes can happen. If you aren't sure, ask them to check that it’s the right treatment for the right patient.

Tips on a hospital stay

It’s your health and you have the right to influence decisions on your care. These tips will help you tick all the boxes associated with a hospital stay to your satisfaction.

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