Take an active part on rounds:
Patients have a right to ask that medical information be shared with the family members of their choice. Healthcare providers, including hospitals, are required by a federal law called HIPAA to take steps to protect patient privacy. For this reason, hospital staff may seem uncomfortable discussing patient care in your presence as a visitor. Additionally, a provider or team doing rounds may need to uncover part of the patient’s body to examine it—providers do not want to expose the patient without his/her permission. Having patients give permission for a specific family member to receive information and/or be present during an exam eases staff concern.
Patients are encouraged to let their nurse know if they would like to participate in rounds and other discussions of care, as well as if they would like a friend or family member with them. Ask your nurse ahead of time for a quick orientation to the rounds process so that you will know what to expect.
When the rounding team comes to you, listen carefully and write down questions or things you didn’t understand.
Be ready to briefly share your view of how your loved one seems and what their goals are.
It may not be possible to get all questions answered right away; rounds can be a great opportunity to connect with the people you can talk to in more depth later in the day. Bring your “what did they mean by …” questions to the bedside nurse along with any outstanding concerns. If you are not able to be present for rounds, you can have the bedside nurse speak on your behalf and follow up with you by phone or in person afterward.