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How to Survive Your Hospital Stay: the Complete Guide to Getting the Care You Need

How to Survive Your Hospital Stay

Gail Van Kanegan and Michael Boyette 2003, 248 pp $14 softcover

This book offers simple ideas to help people avoid hospital hazards and substandard care. The authors' intended audience includes anyone who may be admitted to or have a loved one entering the hospital--essentially, everyone at some point. The writing is clear, readable, and easy to understand, which is important because the audience is very general.

The authors discuss a variety of pertinent topics, ranging from choosing a hospital to avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures. Readers who are not involved in the health care arena may find some of the information frightening, however. For example, one chapter identifies medication errors as one of the top 10 risks patients may encounter in the hospital. The information in this chapter teaches patients how to avoid this risk, but it also has the potential to make patients anxious when a nurse arrives to administer medication.

One of the best features of this book is the pro-nursing stance taken by author Gail Van Kanegan who is a nurse practitioner. She portrays nurses as patient advocates and defends nurses who have made medication errors, explaining that hospital understanding and nursing shortages can be causative factors.

This book may be useful for someone who anticipates a hospital stay in the future and has time to read a more than 200-page book before admission. The authors do an excellent job of decoding medical terminology for the layperson, but this may make the reading less than stimulating for nurses or other health care professionals.

Some readers may argue that this book could lead to patient paranoia and distrust; however, today's health care system requires informed consumers to protect themselves from potential but unintentional harm. The authors have done an extraordinary job of giving readers what they need to become informed consumers.

This book is available from Fireside Books, Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

MARY ELLEN SCARBROUGH

RN, MS

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF NURSING

UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT MARTIN

MARTIN, TENN

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