Not preparing for healthcare concerns can involve a whole host of medical and legal complications. At best, these issues may affect you financially; at worst, they could mean the difference between life and death. Whether you go to the hospital for a routine procedure or an emergency, there are steps you can take to help avoid complications.
- Have an up-to-date Medical Power of Attorney or Advanced Medical Directive (“Living Will”).In the event you cannot make medical decisions yourself, these documents entrust decisions about your care to a person you designate. Advise your family of your designation so that person is notified when decisions must be made.
- Make sure your name, identifying information and all other information is completely accurate at each doctor’s appointment, outpatient surgery and hospitalization. Serious problems involving medical care sometimes begin as simple clerical errors. A small error can create a major treatment crisis. Reduce the chance of error by carefully reviewing all of your doctor’s office or hospital admissions paperwork. During hospitalization check your hospital wristband for errors. I know this may sound cheeky but read the documents you are signing.
- Understand your health insurance coverage before you get sick. It is important that you understand all of the limitations and exclusions in your insurance policy. Your policy may require you to obtain preauthorization for medical procedures. In addition, you may need supplemental coverage or disability coverage in the event of a long recovery. Review your health coverage now. It is too late to make critical changes after you get sick. If you have questions about your policy reach out to us as we are here for you!
- Save any documents you receive regarding your care or billing. Retain all of your medical documentation in the event of a fee dispute, insurance dispute or medical malpractice claim. Documents can be easily misplaced in the confusion of care and recovery. If you are too ill to organize your own paperwork ask someone you trust to help manage your documentation. It is also a great idea to keep a running journal of the dates of service and procedure’s done. If you call regarding a bill it doesn’t hurt to document who you spoke to, when you spoke to them and what information was received.
- Ask for a second opinion if you are unsure about your diagnosis or treatment. You always have the right to speak with another doctor or caregiver if you are uncomfortable with the diagnosis or treatment recommendations being made. If someone wants you to have an expensive procedure or treatment make sure to be the smart consumer who asks lots of questions.
- Advocate for your own quality care! It is important to speak up for yourself in healthcare situations. If you or a loved one have been hospitalized and have concerns about the quality of care, speak to a doctor or nursing supervisor. If you are unable to advocate for yourself due to the nature of your illness, medications or treatments, have a friend or family member stay with you. Many hospitals have a designated advocate on staff. If you feel your concerns are not addressed ask to speak with a patient advocate.