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Hospital Stays: What You Need to Know

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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 released
  • Toiletries (such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, comb, deodorant, and razor)
  • A list of all the medicines you take, including dosages and frequency. Be sure to include any over-the-counter medicines as well. If you are taking a very specific or uncommon medicine, it may be good to bring the medicine with you. You should show it to your nurse. Do not take it though unless specifically given to you by your nurse.
  • Details of past illnesses, surgeries, and any allergies
  • Health insurance card and identification card
  • Address book and list of names and phone numbers of people to reach in case of an emergency
  • A small amount of cash for newspapers, magazines, or gift shop items
  • Reading glasses, books, magazines
  • MP3 player to listen to music or audio books (just be careful that this isn't stolen)

Things to Leave at Home

There are things you don't need in the hospital, and bringing them may cause you to worry about their safety. These include:

  • Cash, credit cards, and checkbook
  • Jewelry
  • Electric razors, hair dryers, and curling irons
  • Keys
  • Cell phone
  • Any food

Checking In

When you arrive at the hospital, your first stop is admissions. Here, you or a family member will need to complete 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.

Safety Tips

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 near your bed.
  • Try to keep things within easy reach.
  • Take only prescribed medicines; discuss any medicines you brought with your doctor and nurse.
  • Be careful getting in and out of the bath or shower. Use the grab bar for support.
  • Use handrails in hallways and stairways.

If you have any questions about your care, don't hesitate to ask your doctor or nurse. You may want to have a notepad by your bed so that you can write down questions as you think of them. Write down any discharge instructions from the doctor.

Make arrangements in advance for a ride to take you home once you are released from the hospital. It's best to have someone drive you home after a hospital stay because of surgical and medication effects.

RESOURCES:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
http://www.ahrq.gov/

American Hospital Association
http://www.aha.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

BC Surgical Society
http://www.bcss.ca/

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/

References:

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 July 11, 2012.

Twelve steps to a safer hospital stay. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00278. Accessed July 11, 2012.

Your hospital stay. Covenant Health System website. Available at: http://www.covenanthealth.org/For-Patients/Your-Hospital-Stay.aspx. Accessed July 11, 2012.



Last reviewed July 2012 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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