Health conditions Your Health & Wellness

How to prepare for your hospital stay

Written by Emily Shearer

Going to the hospital for an overnight stay, whether it is for a scheduled surgery or for medical tests, can cause irritation, stress, and even anxiety. Knowing how to prepare for your stay can help relieve these feelings, making your stay as comfortable and stress-free as possible. If you or a loved one has an overnight hospital stay coming up, follow these tips to help get ready.

First and foremost, keep in mind that it is generally a big help to bring along a health care buddy–a partner or child or dear friend–who can make sure your needs are met, help ask questions of the medical team on your behalf, and keep track of all advice you’re given. You might check to see whether your buddy is permitted to stay overnight with you; and, if so, you should consider asking your buddy to stay with you in case you need help in the middle of the night. Hospitals are often short-staffed, particularly at night.

What to bring

When packing your bag for the hospital, be sure to bring these essentials:

  • Your current medications
  • Your health insurance card
  • A credit card
  • Toiletries, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, deodorant and a razor
  • Bed clothes and slippers and comfy clothes to wear on the way home
  • Accessories you need daily, such as hearing aids or glasses
  • Books, crosswords, magazines, or other fun things you can do in bed

It’s best to leave valuables, non-essentials, and electronics at home.

Information to have on hand

Doctors or other hospital staff may need information from you during your stay. Be prepared to answer their questions by having the following pieces of information on hand when you check in at admissions:

  • Your health insurance information
  • A picture ID
  • A list of your current medications, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, along with a list of any allergies you may have
  • Emergency contact information, along with advance directives (be sure to let hospital staff know you have a health care proxy or ask for a health care proxy form to complete)

During your stay

You may interact with a number of different healthcare professionals during your stay. Remember – it is their job to help you! Ask questions if you don’t understand something or want more information, whether it is about what is happening during your stay or about what the next steps are once you’re back at home. Before you leave, make sure you have the contact information of the individuals responsible for your care, so you can follow up with any questions that might come up once you’re home.

For more information, visit the National Institutes of Aging or Brigham and Women’s.  Also keep in mind that hospitals have different patient safety records.  And some hospitals have lower rates of hospital-acquired conditions than others.

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