“Ten Things Patients Should Know” series


1. THE BEDSIDE NURSE – is the first resource for patients and advocates. Most issues can be resolved by communicating with your bedside nurse.

2. THE CHARGE NURSE – makes patient assignments and is the supervisor of the nurses on a particular shift. The charge nurse is the next “go-to” person for both patients and bedside nurses if a problem arises.

3. PATIENT RELATIONS – staff members are available during business hours to assist with hospital rules and policies and can direct patients to resources for help with specific concerns.

4. SOCIAL SERVICES – staff members assist patients in communicating with the staff, schedule family meetings and provide support to patients and advocates. 

5. CASE MANAGER/ DISCHARGE PLANNER – is a specially trained registered nurse or social worker who helps coordinate the plan of care and the patient’s discharge needs.

6. NURSE MANAGER OR NURSE SUPERVISOR – is the most senior nursing staff member or administrator for a particular hospital unit. The nurse manager is the next person to contact after the charge nurse.

7. ATTENDING PHYSICIAN OR HOSPITALIST – is a senior doctor who is ultimately responsible for the care of a patient. This physician is higher up the chain of command than both the residents and the chief resident.

8. DEPARTMENT HEADS – are supervisors who oversee the doctors working in a particular department such as pediatrics, orthopedics or surgery. If you have a problem with your attending physician, ask to consult with the department head.

9. ADMINISTRATOR ON CALL – is a hospital executive (nurse, physician or non-medical administrator) who responds to serious emergencies that arise after regular business hours.

10. THE RAPID RESPONSE TEAM (RRT) – is a group of staff members with training in critical care medicine who respond immediately to the patient’s bedside at the first sign of a serious decline. Calling the RRT is like dialing 911 while in the hospital.

by Julia A. Hallisy, copyright 2011, An Empowered Patient Publication.



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