7 Things to Do Before, During and After Your Hospital Stay

Face it. Going to the hospital isn’t most people’s idea of a great time. Whether it’s an emergency or scheduled visit, the worry and uncertainty can cause a lot of stress. At times, it can even seem overwhelming.

By following the seven pieces of advice listed here beforeyour visit, you can reduce the stress and make your hospital experience a positive one. You will feel more calm, confident and in control.

#1 Get Your Paperwork in Order

Check with hospital staff to see what paperwork you’ll need to fill out. Anything you can complete in advance of your admission will make things run more smoothly. If you’re scheduling a surgery or another specific procedure, ask your physician if there is anything you need to bring. When it’s time to check in, have your social security card, photo ID, and insurance card with you.

#2 Print Your Records

Talk with your primary care physician and make sure your medical records are current. The hospital should be able to reference those documents during your stay, but don’t assume everything was sent.

Bring a printed copy of your medical file, including medical directive documents (including a living will and durable power of attorney), a list of all medications you’re currently taking, any allergies you may have and contact information for your regular doctors.

#3 Know Where You’re Going

Hospitals can be big, intimidating places, and navigating their halls can be like finding your way through a maze. Ask about the nearest available parking when you call to schedule your appointment. Once you arrive, look for maps and landmarks that will help you find your way around. The front desk may even have a printed layout of the building for you to keep.

#4 Keep Asking Questions

You’ll get the best possible care if you work with your healthcare team. That’s why you should get involved, be prepared and ask questions.

The best way to deal with feelings of uncertainty is to talk to the people you’ll be dealing with in the hospital. If you don’t ask questions, they may not fully explain the process and the procedures you face.

Remember: There are no dumb questions! You should also look over the Overview of Patient Rights and Responsibilities and keep a printed copy with you during your stay. If any of the items you see listed there aren’t clear, you should… Wait for it… Ask!

#5 Take Notes

Once you’ve checked in, keep a notebook and track of who comes into your room, who gives you medications and anything else that’s said about your care.

Doctors and nurses tend to rattle off instructions pretty quickly, and remembering everything is impossible even when you aren’t on medications that can cloud your ability to recall. Writing down the details will also help you remember names—you’re likely to meet a lot of nurses,doctors and other staff during your stay!

#6 Pay Attention to Discharge Procedures

After your surgery, you’ll be eager to get home, but this process can take a while, so be patient.

Once your doctor determines you’re ready to be discharged, he or she will direct hospital staff to begin the release process. There may be final tests or lab procedures to be completed first. Your nurse will give you instructions regarding follow-up visits and any medications you’ll need.

Again, ask questions before you leave the hospital. You have the right to spend time with the nurse and ask anything you don’t feel confident about. Finally, a staff member will assist you to the hospital exit.

#7 Don’t Underestimate the Importance of At-Home Recovery

Make sure a friend or family member is ready to take you home. You may need continued care once you’re home so carefully follow any instructions you were given regarding your diet,exercise and activities to avoid.Keep any follow-up appointments and continue to ask questions.

Finally, check out Slidell Memorial’s "KnowBefore You Go” information to prepare for your stay with us. If any issues arise before or after your stay, contact the appropriate party, and we’ll be sure to help in whatever way we can.

We want to help you have a more pleasant stay and successful recovery, whether your procedure is with Slidell Memorial or another healthcare facility.