As Seen On TV: Hospital Care Tips

A report today in the journal Circulation warns that many women may not be getting the basic care they desperately need. The study found that women are twice as likely to die from a severe heart attack as men. Results show that women were 14 percent less likely to receive early aspirin, which is typically used to minimize blood clotting. ABC News Medical Contributor Dr. Marie Savard gives patients advice on how to ensure their health when hospitalized.

Tips to Get the Best Hospital Care Savard says knowing your medical history, identifying the doctor in charge and helping the nursing staff are easy ways to protect yourself.

"Don't hesitate to ask questions and have your answers recorded (with permission) or written down," Savard says. "Your attending doctor will dictate a complete report, summarizing the reason for your hospital stay, any treatment and test results. Ask your doctor for a copy of this discharge summary and provide a self-addressed stamped envelope as a reminder of your request. Ask your surgeon for a copy of the operative summary for your files, as well."

Tips for an Emergency Room Visit Savard recommends taking a "health buddy" with you and collecting your medical records as ways to understand what's happening in the ER and get the best follow-up care.

Tips to Improve Overall Health Care By getting more involved in their medical decisions and trusting their instincts, patients can avoid medical errors.

According to Savard, tracking your treatment is one of the most powerful tools to staying healthy. To keep track of your treatment goals and options, download this chart for men and this chart for women.

Click here to see Savard's interactive tour on how to take an active role planning your health.

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