Guide for Patients and Visitors
We have assembled 10 Golden Rules of Hospital Etiquette that cover everything from what to bring—and more importantly, what not to bring—to filling out a living will.
10 Golden Rules of Hospital Etiquette
- Leave cash, jewelry, wedding rings, credit cards and other valuables at home. A small amount of cash is OK for discretionary spending. Do bring toiletries, a robe, sleepwear, slippers and personal items such as eyeglasses and dentures. All should be marked with your name.
- Do your homework before heading to the hospital.
- Know what your insurance does—and doesn’t—cover and what charges you might be responsible for. Some hospitals have pre-registration where forms can be filled out before arrival. Emergency telephone numbers of family and friends should be listed. Visit a hospital’s Web site to find out about parking, visiting hours, etc.
- Make a list of your current medications, and give it to your health-care team. You can download the new Medication Safety form from our internet. Share other vital information such as allergies and how well you get around.
- Gifts, flowers and balloons are allowed and usually welcomed. But make certain the patient, or the roommate for that matter, doesn’t have a specific allergy.
- If you have a roommate, be considerate. Ask about guidelines for visitors. If you’re in the intensive care unit, the rules will be different than if you’ve just delivered a baby. If there is a problem with the posted visiting hours, the hospital staff will try to work with you.
- Children usually are permitted, but must be accompanied by an adult. In addition, visitors might be asked to step outside when a patient or roommate is undergoing a procedure.
- If you have questions, make a list and present it to your doctor when he or she makes rounds.
- You might want to keep a notebook of the doctor’s answers. Ask questions about care, tests and medications. If your doctor writes a prescription, ask him for what it addresses. You have the right to know as a patient.
- Designate a family member for your doctor and other caregivers to speak with about your condition.
- The doctor and others will give information to that person, who can relay it to the rest of the family.
- No smoking. If you have a problem with that, discuss it with your doctor in advance. WGH campus is smoke-free for the health of our patients and visitors.
- If you have a cold, avoid visiting the hospital. Hospitals try to maintain a healthy atmosphere, and discourage visitors with colds, flu or other contagious diseases.
- Anticipate support you might need for discharge or at home. Most patients require help getting home from the hospitals, and some support once they are there. Our nursing staff and social workers will help you in that regard.
- Make out an advance directive. An advance directive contains two vital items: a living will in which you state how you want to be treated in case you are unable to communicate because of a terminal illness. The Healthcare Power of Attorney declares an individual who will speak for you, in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.
As a service to you, WGH will keep your copies of your advance directives on file at the hospital in the event you might need them. Bring your photo ID, your health insurance information, and your completed advance directives forms to WGH Admissions office Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm to be scanned into our system.
Edited version, taken from The Beaufort Gazette, May 30, 2005. Article by Tom Ullenbrocl, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.