top ten check lists

Have you ever wondered if you had all the information you needed to decide whether to move forward with a certain medical procedure? Dr. Gerda Maissel, a physician and the founder of My MD Advisor, has shared with us her tips and check lists for a better hospital and health care experience.

Regarding medical procedures, here are some questions you might want to ask:
1. What is involved in the procedure, including: how long will it take; what exactly will be done; and where will it be performed?
2. What is the recovery time?
3. What are the common complications and how often do they occur?
4. If something goes poorly, what could happen?
5. How many of these procedures does the doctor typically perform in a year, keeping in mind that as a general rule of thumb, 25 is the minimum to maintain competency.
6. How many of these procedures has the physician done this year?
7. What are his/her complication rates and how do they compare to other doctors who do this same procedure?
8. What are the other options to treat your condition?
9. Why does the physician think that this is the best option for you?
10. What would happen if you don’t do anything to treat the condition?

Some hospital admissions happen through the Emergency Department, while other times people are admitted directly to the hospital. In either case, consider the following suggestions before leaving your home:
1. Bring a notebook and pen to write down questions and keep track of who said what.
2. Bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, non-slip slippers, and hairbrush, presuming you have time to collect these.
3. Bring your insurance card.
4. Bring your phone and phone charger.
5. Turn on your phone’s device tracking.
6. Bring along a small object that gives you comfort such as a picture or a soft item.
7. Know which hospital entrance you should be going to.
8. Leave jewelry and money at home. This includes the ring that you never take off. (If your hand swells, the hospital may have to cut it off you.)
9. Remove nail polish if you have time.
10. Bring pajamas if you are willing to get them dirty or lost.

No one wants problems when they or their loved one is in the hospital. Unfortunately, staff and provider burnout, along with personnel shortages, raise the probability that problems may occur. So what should you do?
1. Have patience and reasonable expectations. Nurses have to prioritize someone with an active medical problem over bringing you something you want. Unfortunately, this can result in annoying wait times.
2. Thank staff who go out of their way for you. This means a lot to them.
3. Ask the right question to the right person at the right time. If you aren’t sure, ask for the best way to get the information you need. Once you have it, write it down and share it with others in your family.
4. Inquire about the hospital routines such as when the doctors do their rounds or nurses change shift so you know what to expect.
5. Figure out the hierarchy. Doctors, nurses, discharge planners, and therapists all report to different leaders. There will be several layers between the staff level and the top.
6. If you have a problem, bring your issue to the next person up the chain in the area in which you are having trouble.
7. If you aren’t sure, start with the floor nursing manager. You can also try Patient Relations / The Ombudsman to see if they can resolve the issue.
8. If necessary, go all the way up the ladder. There will be a President / CEO of the hospital (ask for Administration).
9. Contact your insurance company and appeal any denied claims if necessary.
10. If you or a family member is unable to advocate for you, consider hiring a Private Patient Advocate to help you.


Gerda Maissel, MD, BCPA is a physician and founder of My MD Advisor, a private patient advocacy service. Dr. Maissel helps to navigate people with complicated medical issues through the healthcare maze. You can reach out to her via email at or call 845-316-0175. Also, go to

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