What to Know Before a Hospital Visit

Just as with financial planning, a hospital visit is easier to manage if you prepare in advance and understand the process.

Here are fifteen tips from hospital insiders that will help you and your loved ones get better care.

  1. If you expect to be hospitalized, have your personal items ready.
  2. Take advantage of additional services available to you during your hospital stay. Most hospitals have nutritionists, spiritual guides, and a variety of highly trained specialists (including respiratory, occupational, and physical therapists) on-site who can visit your room upon request.
  3. Take note of the visitor policies before inviting loved ones to visit.
  4. Don’t be nervous if you are receiving treatment from a doctor in training. At teaching hospitals, it’s normal to be seen by a doctor in training, such as a resident or fellow.
  5. Doctors typically do not know the cost of diagnostic tests, treatments, or medications.
  6. Expect to receive two separate hospital bills. Most physicians are not employed by hospitals. This means you will receive at least two bills after your hospital stay: one from the hospital and one (or more) from your provider(s).
  7. Your anesthesiologist or NICU doctor might not take your insurance, even if the hospital does.
  8. You can stay overnight in the hospital without being admitted. If you are on Medicare, you will want to read this blog entry on a potential problem with this scenario.
  9. To get things done, ask for the charge nurse or nurse manager.
  10. You can request a private room.
  11. Many hospitals have VIP floors, and they are not always filled. Ask about them prior to admission.
  12. Don’t assume that requesting an appointment with the chief of a hospital, department, division, or unit will get you better care.
  13. Ask for undisturbed sleep time. While this request can’t always be accommodated, ask your clinicians to avoid coming into your room and disturbing you in the middle of the night.
  14. Express gratitude to hospital staff. When patients are gracious and show appreciation for their hard work, it makes a difference.
  15. Take notes during discharge. You may have several next steps, including making appointments and taking medications.

Obviously, there's a lot of additional explanation for each of these points, so you will want to read this article to be fully prepared for a hospital stay.