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Hospital Hints

Going to the hospital is somewhat like traveling to another country - the sights are unfamiliar and the people you meet there often speak a foreign language. No matter what the reason for the trip - whether it's an overnight visit for a few tests or a longer stay for medical treatment or major surgery - nearly everyone worries about entering the hospital. Learning more about hospitals and the people who work there may help make your hospital stay less stressful.

The following hints are meant for people who plan to enter the hospital by choice rather than for those who go to the hospital because of an emergency. (Information about emergency care is at the end of this Age Page.) Relatives and friends of patients who are admitted to the hospital also may find this information useful.

What to Bring

It's best to pack as little as you can. However, be sure to bring the following items:

  • nightclothes, bathrobe, and sturdy slippers (label all personal items)
  • comfortable clothes to wear home
  • a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, comb and brush, deodorant, and razor
  • a list of your medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs
  • details of past illnesses, surgeries, and any allergies
  • your health insurance card
  • a list of the names and telephone numbers (home and business) of family members to contact in an emergency
  • $10 or less for newspapers, magazines, or other items you may wish to buy in the hospital gift shop

What to Leave Home

Leave cash, jewelry (including wedding rings, earrings, and watches), credit cards, and checkbooks at home or have a family member or friend keep them for you. If you must bring valuables, ask if they can be kept in the hospital safe during your stay. In addition, leave electric razors, hair dryers, and curling irons at home.


Your first stop in the hospital will be the admitting office. Here you'll sign forms allowing the hospital staff to treat you and to release medical information to your insurance company. You also will be asked about advance directives (explained later in this Age Page).


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