I had the chance to interview Kati Kleber, a critical care nurse and author of Admit One: What You MUST Know When Going to the Hospital, But No One Actually Tells You! Her user-friendly, insider’s guide to a hospital stay includes everything you need to know, from who’s who to how it all works. Kleber’s book can help patients — and their loved ones — ask the right questions, make the best decisions, and get the best care.
What motivated you to write Admit One?
It’s important for us, as the health care team, to meet people where they are, not where we think they should be. That’s the purpose of this book: to make it okay to not know things, and empower people to make the best and most informed choices they can for themselves and their loved ones.
While I wrote this book for patients, I also wrote it for prospective health care workers. There isn’t a “Hospital Culture 101” course during training for any health care-related fields. It’s all stuff we just learn on the fly.
What essential information should someone expect to receive if they’re admitted to a hospital?
The most important thing is to have a very clear and defined goal for your stay. The goal may be to go home, return to a normal level of function, or get a fork to your mouth after suffering a stroke. In addition, you should always know who your attending physician is (and his or her group as well), and what the goal for you is each time they see you.
Can you give an example of a common disconnect that happens between hospital staff and patients?
A very common disconnect has to do with schedules. Many of us on the health care team forget that our patients don’t know how a doctor’s schedule works, let alone a nurse’s, chaplain’s, occupational therapist’s, social worker’s, or case manager’s. Patients may not know when they can expect to see anyone again. While their nurse is with them for the day, typically the medical team and other members of the health care team will only see them once per day, or a few times a week. So simply telling a patient when he or she can expect to see you again can avoid miscommunication and frustration.
In your book, you list the important questions patients need to ask of their health care team. Can you give some examples of what’s important to ask, and who to ask?
Whenever anyone walks into your room to care for you, it’s important that they tell you who they are, what their role is within the team, and how their involvement helps you achieve your goal. If they don’t just tell you, go ahead: ask!
There are essential questions to ask about medications, too. For instance: “What meds am I taking?” and “Why am I taking them?” The more informed you are, the more likely you are to use them appropriately and maximize their benefit.
Admit One also describes the responsibilities of patients and their family members. Explain what’s needed from the patient’s end.
I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, and NASCAR is pretty big here. So it’s a good analogy. So consider the functions of a NASCAR driver, car, and pit crew: the patient’s mind is the driver, their body is the car, and the health care team is the pit crew. We all have very defined roles within the team, and together they optimize the driver/patient experience. But if the pit crew is working their tails off to get the car in perfect condition, and the patient isn’t there to step on the gas and go, there’s no point to the process. Patients must ask what they should be doing in order do optimize their time in the hospital, so they can get back to living life — and enjoying the drive.
To learn more about Admit One: What You MUST Know When Going to the Hospital, But No One Actually Tells You! visit www.nursesbooks.org.