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Preparing for Your Hospital Stay - Topic Overview

Take care of pre-hospital tasks

Check that you have arranged for things to be taken care of while you're gone—like child and pet care, yard care, collecting your mail, and paying your bills.

If possible, ask a relative or other loved one to be your helper, to go with you to the hospital and be with you as much as possible during your stay. This person can keep an eye on you, alert nurses when needed, make sure your questions get answered, and take notes when the doctor visits you.

If you're going in for surgery, follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking.

Make a hospital packing list

Fill out and collect all your paperwork, including:

  • Your insurance card.
  • A list of emergency contact names and phone numbers.
  • Any forms—already filled out by you—that the hospital has given you ahead of time.
  • A record of your family medical history.
  • A list of all medicines—including vitamins and supplements—that you take. Most hospitals want you to leave your actual medicines at home. Some hospitals want you to bring all your medicines with you so that a nurse can make his or her own list for the hospital, and then a family member takes the medicines back home. If you don't know which method your hospital uses, call the hospital or ask your doctor.
  • A list of any allergies you have.
  • Copies of your living will and medical power of attorney.

Ask your doctor if you need to bring copies of any lab results or X-rays with you. You probably won't, but it's a good idea to check.

Personal items

Remember to take personal items you need to use every day, such as:

  • Your eyeglasses. If you wear contact lenses, you may not want to have to deal with them at the hospital.
  • Your hearing aid (along with extra batteries), a cane, and your dentures and dentures case.
  • Your cell phone and charger or a prepaid phone card. Some hospitals don't allow cell phone use in patient rooms. If you can't bring your cell phone, bring a list of important phone numbers.
  • Toiletries, like soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, and a shaver. While the hospital may supply basic toiletries, those products may not be to your liking. Remember, though, that there is often very little storage space in a hospital room, so pack carefully.
  • Lip balm and skin moisturizer. Hospital heating and cooling systems can be very drying to your skin. Consider placing these and other frequently needed items into a fanny pack that you can clip to your bed or night stand for easy access.
  • A hat, scarf, headband, or hair clips for those days when you can't wash your hair and want to cover it up.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

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