Hospital Stays: What You Need to Know
Planning for a stay in the hospital is not always an easy thing. What should you bring? What shouldn't you bring? It's hard to know how to prepare. Listed below are some things that will help make your hospital stay a bit more comfortable.
Things to Bring
To make you feel more comfortable while in the hospital, bring the following items:
- Nightclothes, including slippers and a loose-fitting robe
- Comfortable clothes to wear home when you are discharged
- Toiletries—such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, comb, deodorant, and razor
- A list of all the medications you take, including dosages and frequency. Be sure to include any over-the-counter medications as well. If you are taking a very specific or uncommon medication, it may be good to bring the medication with you and show it to the staff. Do not take it though, unless specifically given to you by your nurse.
- Details of past illnesses, surgeries, test results, and any allergies
- Health insurance card and identification card
- Address book or list of names and phone numbers of people to reach in case of an emergency (if they are not on your cell phone)
- A small amount of cash for newspapers, magazines, or gift shop items
- Reading glasses, books, magazines
- Cell phone, tablet, electronic or audio book, or MP3 player; be careful about where you leave them so they don't get lost or stolen
Things to Leave at Home
There are things you don't need in the hospital. Bringing some items may even cause you to worry about their safety. These include:
- Large amounts of cash, credit cards, and checkbook
- Electric razors, hair dryers, and curling irons
Many hospitals will mail you information in advance of your stay. Read the information and fill out any forms before you leave home. It will give you more time to think about your answers and save you time when you get to admissions.
When you arrive at the hospital, your first stop is admissions. Here, you or a family member will need to complete other forms allowing the hospital to provide treatment, and release medical information to your insurance company. The admissions staff will tell you where to go next.
If you have any questions about your upcoming visit, call the hospital ahead of time to get the answers you need.
Once you are in the hospital room, you will need to exercise more caution when moving around. Here are some tips to help you prevent accidents:
- Use the call bell when you need help.
- Use the controls to lower the bed before getting in or out. Always move slowly.
- Be careful not to trip over the wires and tubes that may be attached to you or near your bed.
- Try to keep things within easy reach.
- Don't take any medications, including over-the-counter medications, unless instructed to do so.
- Be careful getting in and out of the bath or shower. Use the grab bar for support.
- Use handrails in hallways and stairways.
- Use any assisted devices, such as a walker, crutches, or a wheelchair as instructed or if you need to.
If you have any questions about your care, don't hesitate to ask your doctor or nurse. If you don't understand something or are confused about your care, don't be afraid to speak up. You have a say in your care and it is important that you understand what is happening and why. You may want to have a notepad by your bed so that you can write down questions as you think of them. Get a copy of your discharge instructions from the doctor or nurse.
Make arrangements in advance for a ride to take you home once you are released from the hospital. It's likely you will need to have someone drive you home after a hospital stay due to the effects of surgery and medications.
Being prepared ahead of time will help you make the transition to a hospital room easier.
Going to the hospital. Dorset County Hospital. NHS Trust Foundation website. Available at: http://www.dchft.nhs.uk/patients/easyread/EasyReadGoingIntoHospital.pdf. Accessed June 4, 2014.
Kirchheimer S. Hospital-bound? how to protect yourself: 6 tips to reduce medical mistakes. American Association of Retired Persons website. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/health/doctors-hospitals/info-06-2010/hospital-bound_howtoprotectyourself.html. Published June 25, 2010. Accessed April 26, 2016.
Patient safety. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00684. Updated December 2013. Accessed April 26, 2016.
Your hospital stay. Covenant Health System website. Available at: http://www.covenanthealth.org/For-Patients/Your-Hospital-Stay.aspx. Accessed April 26, 2016.
Last reviewed April 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 6/4/2014