Planning Ahead for Your Hospital Stay

Planning Ahead for Your Hospital Stay

There’s a lot that needs to be done before you go into the hospital. Following our checklist will help you get it taken care of.

You’ve planned the surgery and rearranged your schedule. The only thing left to do is show up at the hospital, right? You may think the details of your hospital stay have been worked out, but it’s best to find out some important information first.

Before you go

Before going to the hospital, read up on your condition and whatever test or procedure you are having. Know what the risks and benefits are. Be as informed as possible before you set foot in the hospital.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask in advance:

  • How much coverage do I have for hospital stays? What are my co-pays, deductibles or uncovered expenses? Make sure to check with your insurance company or the hospital admissions office ahead of time.
  • Can I have a private room? If you request one in advance, the hospital may be able to provide one. Just remember that private rooms cost more. Find out if your insurance will cover it before taking on the additional expense.
  • Can I have a family member spend the night with me? This may not be permitted in a shared room.
  • How can my family and friends get information about my condition? Hospital staff cannot give information about you to anyone without your permission. Some hospitals provide access codes for you to give to only those people you want to have such information. When the password is given to hospital staff, they can then provide the information. Ask about the specific policy at your hospital.


Make sure you have the following when you get to the hospital:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your insurance, Medicare or Medicaid card
  • A photo ID, such as a driver’s license
  • A method of payment such as checkbook or credit card
  • Any referrals or authorizations from your doctor
  • Pre-admission paperwork that you may have received in advance from the hospital

What to bring

  • Your own clothes if you don’t want or need to wear a hospital gown. Be sure that the clothing is easy to put on and won’t put stress on your stitches or staples.
  • A change of clothes and a pair of shoes to wear home. Make sure they are comfortable and easy to put on.
  • Slippers and a bathrobe.
  • Personal items such as your toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo. Hospitals normally provide these items, but you can bring your own if you prefer.
  • Glasses, hearing aids, dentures or other assistive devices.
  • A small amount of cash or a debit card for small purchases, TV rental or phone calls.
  • A book, magazine, crossword puzzle or radio to keep you occupied.
  • Your medications in their original containers. Give them to your nurse. Don’t take any medications without your doctor’s approval.
  • Phone numbers for your primary doctor and any family members or friends you may want to contact.
  • A list of previous surgeries, allergies and medical history.
  • A list of questions for your doctor.
  • Your Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will or DNR (do not resuscitate) Order if you have one. These provide directions about what should be done if a time comes when you cannot speak for yourself.

DO NOT bring jewelry, extra credit cards, pricey electronics, large amounts of money or other valuables.

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