The Patient Assistant Guide

This list of information should be helpful if you accompany a patient to the hospital as a professional advocate, or as a friend or family member.  Not all items would be appropriate at all times and you should use your best judgment when preparing to be a Patient Advocate or Support Person. You may also be an advocate for the family, and a family member may be your point of contact. 

-Notebook: one large pad or notebook for each patient.
-Pen or pencil  (2)
-Post-It notes (to be used as section dividers in the notebook)
-Antibacterial wipes for objects
-Antibacterial wipes for hands and/or body
-Photos of patients and/or their families (from social media if necessary)
-Change/cash for parking and vending machines
-Something to do or read if patient is resting
-Something for patient to read
-Small pad and pen for the patient to keep at the bedside
-Snacks/water for yourself
-Extra layer of clothing (hospital may be cold)
-Treats such as lollipops or cookies for staff to be left inside patient’s room
-Your business card/contact information
-Pocket folder for patient information
-Bag and labels for patient’s belongings

-Phone charger

Lists to Discuss with Patient / Family:

-Allergies and past reactions to medications, foods, animals and objects
-Any recent change in behavior, mood or eating habits
-All medications, herbs, vitamins and supplements
-Any special diet
-Recreational drugs, alcohol use, smoking etc.
-All doctors’ names, phone numbers and specialty

​-Contact for primary care physician and specialists

-Pharmacist name, address and phone number
-Names of patient’s closest family members and friends with their contact information
-Other support person/caregiver
-Who to include and not include in sharing information or visiting
-Any and all tests and diagnoses
-Advanced Directives (healthcare proxy, DNR, living will)
-Phone number of hospital, insurance company and secondary insurance
-Contact info for religious/spiritual leader 
-Resources, family or community support organizations the patient is involved with
-Expectations for returning home (from hospital, rehab)

Arriving at the Bedside:

-Be sure to go over with the patient the list of what you will do. Do this before the doctor

comes to see the patient, even if it’s the day before.
-What does the patient/family want you to do? For example:
-Ask about medications?
-Ask clinicians to wash their hands? 
-Ask questions on behalf of the patient/family?

As the patient is talking to you and thinking of questions they may have for the doctor,

begin writing down their thoughts. Preparing this when there is no rush is helpful. Do not

ask questions for the patient unless you are given permission by the patient (the patient is in charge).  

When the Doctor or Medical Team Arrive: Keep Notes
Taking Notes:
-Doctor’s name and specialty – (is he/she a resident, attending, hospitalist?)
-Reason he/she is there
-What to expect during that day and days to come
-Recent tests and results
-Expected tests and expected schedule
-Any new medication
-Ask for list of all medications patient is receiving in the hospital, to be compared to home list
-Ask who is overseeing the patient’s care – who is in charge?
-Before the doctor leaves ask the patient to repeat back to the doctor what he or she has

heard (Don’t just ask the patient, “Do you understand?”)
-When does physician do rounds? When do shifts change?
-What unit/room is patient expected to be in after a procedure or surgery?

When the Doctor Leaves:
-Continue writing questions
-Rewrite notes more clearly while conversations are fresh in your mind in anticipation of sharing them 

Things to Do (Be sure to inform the patient and/or family members what you will do):
-Wipe down with antibacterial wipes the call button, bed rails, TV remote, telephone and anything

anyone — including the patient — touches
-Wipe patient’s hands with proper hand wipes
-Make sure patient moves or is moved every hour to two hours if they can’t move themselves
-Be sure everything is within reach of the patient (tray table, TV remote, tissues, telephone, call bell)
-Be sure patient understands how to use call bell and if they don’t, get nurse/ staff to demonstrate
-Have access to appropriate equipment
-Learn the fall precautions on unit and find out if are they being utilized for this patient
-Find out visiting hours and overnight stay policy
-Find out where clean linens are

​-Name and phone number of hospital’s patient representative or advocate
-Discharge planner’s name and contact
-Nurse manager/director name and contact

Things to Check for While in the Hospital:
-Is there soap in dispensers?
-Is the bathroom clean?
-Clean linens?
-Room cleanliness
-Tray table within reach?
Are clinicians:
-Introducing themselves?
-Washing their hands and stethoscopes or other instruments before touching the patient and before leaving the room?
-Asking the patient their name and birth date?

Have we missed something?  Let us know what has worked for you.  Contact us

PULSECenter for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy