According to the CDC and the American Hospital Association websites, in registered hospitals in the United States there are 36 million inpatient admissions each year. And 96 million outpatient hospital visits. And 136 million emergency room visits (17 million of which become inpatient hospital admissions, included in that first statistic). That’s a lot of people-hospital interaction.
When you have one of these up-close-and-personal encounters with our medical system, do you ever feel lost? Out of your element? Alone? Confused? Angry? Overwhelmed? Scared? I have to tell you, even as a doctor, when I’ve been a patient or when I’ve been with a family member in hospital situations I’ve at various points in the experiences felt pretty much all of the above.
The advice in Your Hospital Guide is based on what I have seen and learned from my patients, on what has or has not worked well for them, on what they have done that I have found to be helpful to me as a physician, what I would have found helpful had they done it (and wished they had done), and what I have found to be helpful when I have had a family member who has been hospitalized. The descriptions, explanations and information in this book cover topics about which I have been frequently questioned. They are based on my experience working as a doctor in hospitals, on my experience having people close to me be hospitalized, and also on my own brief experiences of hospitalization.
I wrote Your Hospital Guide to be easy to read and understand. Its purpose is to help you understand what is going on around you when you are hospitalized, who all the people are that are walking past your door and coming into your room, what you can expect, and what you can do to keep a sense of being as safe and in control as possible when you are in a situation where you might otherwise feel vulnerable and out of control. This is not a book that quotes statistics on medical errors or that delves into detail about a particular disease or procedure; rather, it is a general handbook, an introduction to the world you will find yourself in, and a collection of advice that I would give my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my uncle, my friend, or my neighbor, if they or their loved one were hospitalized.