How to prepare for a hospital stay

A sudden illness or the need for surgery may require an admission to a hospital. Anticipating this is almost always accompanied by appropriate anxiety.

A hospital has a rhythm of its own and although it sometimes seems confusing to the lay person, each professional and staff member has their own responsiblity to the patients they care for. The staffing in each area is covered by those professionals that have been educated in their specialty.

Sometimes there is fear of the hospital environment or the unknown. With changes in health care, patients sometimes feel unprepared to safely navigate the health care system.

This guide is designed to educate you about what you may expect in the hospital setting, and encourages you to be proactive in your care or in the care of your family member. It can help you to better understand how the health care system works, what you can expect during your hospitalization, and, provides you with the knowledge necessary to reduce the stress of your hospitalization.


Step 1

Understanding Triage

In the emergency room setting those with the most serious injury or life threatening event will be cared for first. All patients on their arrival should be seen, assessed and placed in a private area to receive appropriate care.

In the clinical care setting, patients who have a critical change in their clinical status will be cared for by multidisciplined caregivers in an emergent manner. These are usually life saving measures and will out of necessity disrupt the delivery of routine care until completed.

A credentialed hospital will deliver quality care and has a history of measurable outcomes.

Step 2

Pain Management

If on admission to the hospital you are in pain. You will be medicated with a dose safe enough not to mask symptoms that are often vital to making an acurate diagnosis.

When the cause of your pain has been clinically and diagnostically determined. Your pain may be more aggressively treated. You will be advised of how the relief of pain is measured using a pain scale.

Step 3

The Patient’s Bill of rights

In most hospitals included with the paper work given on your admission to the hospital is the Patient’s Bill of Rights.

You have the right to accurate and easily understood information about your illness, and planned treatment or care. This should include information about your health care professionals, the facility and your coverage with your health care plan or appropriate referrals for the uninsured patient.

You have the right to a patient representative if you need additional assistance, an interpreter,or assistance to help you make an informed decision when a consent is needed.

You have the right to know treatment options and take part in the decision making process about your care. This includes the right to get a second opinion.

Parents, guardians,family members and others that you may choose can speak on your behalf if you cannot make decisions for yourself. By assigning to them Durable Power of Attorney.

You have a right to patient confidentiality. You may read and get a copy of your own medical records upon request.

There are consumer responsibilities . A patient is expected to partner with the health care system and provider in the pursuit of his optimum health status. By co- operating with professional advice such as, regarding exercise and the avoidance of tobacco. These behaviors support the ultimate goal of high quality care within a cost conscious health care system.

Step 4

Repetition and safety cross checks

Don’t be surprised if you are repeatedly asked the same questions. This practice of cross checking is imperative for patient safety and accuracy within the health care system. Your patient ID bracelet will be checked frequently.

Operative procedures include a review of all available information on a patient. Including the patients understanding of a surgical procedure, with an informed signed consent . The location of your surgery may be physically marked accordingly.

You can expect that more then one physician may be invoved in your care. In addition to your primary physician you may have a cardiologist, and an anesthesiologist. Each will be reviewing the same critical information as it relates to your care.

Step 5

Preparation for your discharge begins on admission to the hospital

Within health care institutions in the USA there are policies, practices, procedures, and plans of care in place for the care of each illness, all having measurable outcomes.

Your diagnosis and illness is quickly evaluated and treated accordingly. In a cost effective way it will be determined what your needs will be when you are discharged from the hospital.

This step is necessary to allow arrangements to be made in advance. The available resources that may be considered are home health care, visiting nurses, out patient education, or physical therapy.

Step 6

Patient Education

All patients need to receive education related to their illness, treatment and self care. It is expected that patients and their family or significant other will make themselves available to receive the appropriate education.

Patient education requires written discharge papers that outline self care measures, written medication orders with dose instructions and potential side effects, Follow up appointments and what steps to use in the case of emergency.

Monitoring for and prevention of infection is critical in selfcare and monitoring.

It is essential to optimum wellness that paitients continue with outpatient education, appropriate self care, and follow up appointments with physicians when indicated,

In all cases, any patient who has acute chest pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath or bleeding should go to their nearest hospital emergency room.

Things Needed
• Insurance information
• Living Will
• Durable Power of Attorney
• Emergency phone numbers of your immediate family members or significant other.
• Allergies to medications, foods, or to latex exposure.
• A list of routine medications, properly spelled, the ability to relate your understanding of how they have been prescribed and for what condition.
• Advise staff regarding negative reactions during diagnostic procedures.
• Inform staff of altered communication abilities related to hearing loss, language barrier, or visual impairment.

Tips & Warnings
• Leave your valuables at home.
• Wear comfortable clothes, or sweat pants that will accomodate post operative dressings.
• Confirm that the information on your hospital ID band is correct. If you have any allergies you should be wearing an alert band.
• When administering a medication,a nurse or physician should use your name, the name of the medication and its purpose.
• Those caregivers that give you hands on care should be washing their hands frequently. Do give them gentle reminders if necessary.
• You can anticipate that you will have an intravenous acess or a possible injection that will require a needle stick. This is done in an antiseptic way and by staff who have acquired expertise in this skill.
• You should be told in advance of any test or treatment, informed consents are to be signed by a patient before administration of any sedation.
• When being transported for diagnostic testing or treatments confirm that they use your name and the name of the scheduled test.


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