Playbook for negotiating hospital care draws on a quarter-century of surgeries, experiences.

Hospital Warrior

“Hospital Warrior”

By Bonnie Friedman

You meet a lot of people called “nurse” in a hospital, Bonnie Friedman points out: registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, and so on. If someone you love is a patient, it’s useful to know which kind of nurse does what. It also helps to understand the chain of command: director of nursing, nurse manager or supervisor, charge nurse, staff nurse, licensed nurse. And of course there are the doctors: fellow, resident, intern, hospitalist, interventionist. . . .

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Such lists, along with brief explanations, are part of the information Friedman provides in her new book, “Hospital Warrior: How to Get the Best Care for Your Loved One.” Friedman draws on a quarter-century of experience shepherding her husband through 14 hospitalizations, beginning with his first heart attack in 1990 and ending with the latest of several surgeries a couple of years ago. (He emerged well enough that they took a carefully managed but hugely enjoyable trip to Alaska.)

Chapters cover such topics as patients’ legal rights and how to pick a hospital, and the book is peppered with interviews with health-care experts, checklists of things to do or know, and printed or online sources of further information.

Throughout, Friedman makes it clear that while she thinks of herself as fighting on her husband’s behalf, she does not see the medical establishment as an adversary. Rather, she encourages patient advocates to remain as good-humored as possible, even when it seems that the big, impersonal health-care apparatus is ignoring the patient’s needs: “You never want to be rude or lose your temper,” she warns. “For example, you might say to a busy doctor or nurse: ‘I can see you don’t have time to talk now. But I have a few important questions. When is a good time to discuss them?’ “

Then make sure to get that discussion.

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