Have you ever just flipped through your hospital chart when no one was looking? Probably not. It, after all, belongs to the doctor.
For most, being a patient means being pretty passive, says Kaplan. Her research shows that during a 20-minute discussion, chronically ill women ask about four questions of their doctor. Chronically ill men, on average, don't even ask one.
Looking out for yourself in a hospital, in spite of feelings of vulnerability and intimidation, requires practice. Start by communicating more effectively with your doctor.
The doctor/patient relationship is a partnership, and no one says the patient can't be the managing partner. Ask your doctor what his or her definition is of an effective doctor/patient partnership. If the answer makes it clear that a partnership is impossible, says Kaplan, then move on.
Make your time count. Write down questions and other pertinent information about your illness before seeing a doctor. Skip the waiting room magazines and mentally review information you'd like to give and receive. This will help you respond more quickly as the doctor presents new information.