Talking with Your Doctor

Hospital Stays and ER Visits

Talking with a doctor during a hospital stay or in the emergency room (ER) can be stressful at any age. This section has tips to help you.

Hospital Schedules

If you have to go to the hospital, some extra guidelines may help you. First, most hospitals have a daily schedule. Knowing the hospital routine can make your stay more comfortable. Find out how much choice you have about your daily routine and express any preferences you have about your schedule. Doctors generally visit patients during specific times each day. Find out when the doctor is likely to visit so you can have your questions ready.

In the hospital, your primary doctor and various medical specialists, as well as nurses and other health professionals, may examine you. If you are in a teaching hospital, doctors-in-training known as medical students, interns, residents, or fellows also may examine you. Many of these doctors-in-training already have a lot of knowledge and experience. They may be able to take more time to talk with you than other staff. Nurses also can be an important source of information, especially since you will see them often.

Questions for the Hospital Staff

Questions you may want to ask your nurses or other medical staff in the hospital:

Questions for Your Doctor or Nurse

During your hospital stay, you may have questions about what’s happening. Keep a pad and pen by your hospital bed to write down questions you want to ask your doctor or nurse. For example:

What to Bring to the ER

A visit to the ER can be especially stressful. It may go more smoothly if you can take along

Some people find it helpful to have this information with them at all times.

During your ER visit, ask questions if you do not know what a doctor or other medical staff is doing, such as what medical tests are being done. Make sure you understand what the ER doctor tells you about your health, or ask him or her to write it down.

Also, make sure you know if there is anything special you need to do after you go home from the ER. For example, if you have a bandage, find out when and how to change it. Tell your regular doctor(s) as soon as possible about your visit to the ER.

Questions for the ER Staff

Questions you may want to ask medical staff in the ER: