If you or someone you know has recently been admitted to the hospital for an extended period of time, you might be unsure about what to expect. All hospitals operate differently and the care you need will also differ. But there are some basic things to know about being admitted into the hospital. Here are tips on how to prepare, what to expect, and what needs to happen before you’re discharged.
1. Limited Visitors
If you plan to spend more than a few days at the hospital, you’ll likely have visitors. While every hospital has different rules, the same general restrictions are often in place for visitors. The hospital provides visiting hours between which family, friends, and loved ones can visit your room. These normally run from approximately 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. There’s often restrictions placed on how many visitors you can have in your room at one time. For some hospitals, this number is 2 or 3. Others are more lenient with their rules. This often depends on if a patient has a private or shared room. In a shared hospital room, space is limited. The hospital also must guarantee the comfort of both patients. Too many guests for one patient could cause a disturbance for another. If the patient’s immune system is compromised in any way, visitors may be asked to wear protective masks over their mouths or faces to avoid the spread of germs.
2. Lots of Tests
Depending on your condition and medical state, the hospital will likely run a series of tests to diagnose and treat your condition. The hospital staff’s responsibility is to monitor your condition and help you improve to the point of being discharged. In the event that your condition cannot be treated in your current hospital room, you may be moved to another area of the hospital better equipped at handling your care. Routine tests will likely be done daily. These include checking your blood pressure, oxygen levels, and drawing blood. While these are all a necessary part of your hospital stay, over time, they may become an inconvenient nuisance. Remember that the hospital staff is simply doing their jobs. Try to cooperate and remain pleasant and compliant.
3. Changing Doctors and Nurses
You may be surprised that the doctors and nurses responsible for your care change from time to time. There are different shifts in the hospital and for each shift, different staff is assigned. This means that the doctor you see in the morning may be different from the doctor caring for you at night. While all the nurses may wear Blue Sky Scrubs, you’ll likely be under the care of several people at different times. Don’t be surprised if your nurses are both male and female. Hospital beds are equipped with “call” buttons that allow patients to summon the nurse if they need them but are unable to walk. Your nurse will check on you periodically throughout the day and are responsible for your care and comfort. The hospital will inform your primary care physician or specialized doctor about your condition and that you’ve been admitted, after which they’ll schedule an in-hospital visit.
4. Personal Items from Home
The hospital will provide you with a hospital gown, bedding, and other small necessities during your stay. But you may want some personal items from home to make yourself more comfortable. Different hospitals have different regulations when it comes to this. The hospital may require you wear the gown provided because it’s easier for nurses and doctors to examine, test, and bathe patients this way. If allowed, you can bring pajamas, slippers, and other personal effects. You may also want to bring your own toothbrush, hairbrush, laptop or tablet, and chargers. If you’re able to pack your bag ahead of time, include things like books or magazines to help you keep busy. If you’re having someone else bring your bag, make a list of the items you’d like.
5. Stay Informed About Your Care
You’re entitled to be kept informed about your care and your current condition. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. But it’s also important to remain patient. After being sent for specific tests or examinations, it may take time for your results to come in. You can ask your nurses and doctors about the progress of things and are entitled to know. If for some reason you’re unable to comprehend the care or treatment you’re receiving, an approved family member can act as your liaison. Extended time in the hospital can get confusing. With so many doctors and nurses coming in and out of your room, you may get confused about who’s in charge of your care and what the action plan is. It’s your right to ask questions and to understand what’s happening to you. If the nurse is unclear, ask to speak to a doctor or put in a special request to see your primary care physician.
6. Understand the Discharge Process
Once you’re condition is treated or stabilized, you’ll be approved for discharge. But this process can take some time. The hospital is only permitted to release you when they are confident that you can safely return home. For liability reasons, hospitals may prolong your discharge longer than you want. On the flipside, some hospitals that service a high volume of patients may discharge patients quickly to free up beds and room for incoming patients. When you’re finally approved for discharge, you’ll need a responsible adult present to drive you home. The hospital will also require you to sign several discharge papers outlining at-home care and acknowledging that you understand you’re being released. Make sure you carefully read and understand all paperwork before signing. Be sure to check your room and gather all of your personal items prior to leaving.
No one wants to be admitted to the hospital, but sometimes it’s necessary. Being knowledgeable about your stay will help you remain calm, informed, and well-cared for. Be sure to have reliable family and friends close by to help you through the process and upon discharge.
Article Submitted By Community Writer