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Preparing for Your Hospital Stay

Table of Contents

Topic Overview

Not all hospital stays begin in the emergency room. Sometimes you have time to prepare for a scheduled hospital stay. But even when you don't have an emergency medical problem, getting ready to go to the hospital may leave you feeling overwhelmed and even a little stressed. By taking steps to prepare for your stay ahead of time, you can get control of some of that stress and save that energy for feeling better as soon as possible.

Plan ahead for those medical bills

Most insurance plans require that you let them know ahead of time about your hospital stay. If you don't, there's a risk that the plan will refuse to cover your stay.

You'll also want to make sure that the hospital you're going to is covered under your plan.

If you have no insurance

If you don't have insurance, call the hospital's billing department before your stay and ask them what they can do to help you. Many hospitals have financial counselors. They will likely arrange a payment plan for you. They may even offer you a discount.

Your hospital may offer a larger discount if you pay all or some of the bill ahead of time. You may also be able to negotiate with various care providers to lower the cost of your stay and treatment.

If you have little or no income, you may qualify for a hospital's charity care program or government assistance.

Make your wishes known to loved ones

Before you go into the hospital, fill out a living will and medical power of attorney.

It's smart to have these documents ready—and to make sure your loved ones know where they are—because in the unlikely event that they're needed, they will be a huge help to your family.

Decide about banking blood

If you are going to have surgery and expect to need a blood transfusion, you may want to bank your own blood a few weeks before the surgery. If you do need a transfusion, doctors can use your own blood.

Many people consider this choice to protect themselves from the risks of disease or mismatched blood that are linked to blood transfusion. Talk to your doctor about your risks.

Take care of pre-hospital tasks

Check that you have arranged for things to be taken care of while you're gone—like child and pet care, yard care, collecting your mail, and paying your bills.

If possible, ask a relative or other loved one to be your helper, to go with you to the hospital and be with you as much as possible during your stay. This person can keep an eye on you, alert nurses when needed, make sure your questions get answered, and take notes when the doctor visits you.

If you're going in for surgery, follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking.

Make a hospital packing list

Fill out and collect all your paperwork, including:

Ask your doctor if you need to bring copies of any lab results or X-rays with you. You probably won't, but it's a good idea to check.

Personal items

Remember to take personal items you need to use every day, such as:

Comfort items

Relaxation items

Taking along items that will help you relax is important. Consider packing one or more of the following:

Health care items

Last-minute checklist

Credits for Preparing for Your Hospital Stay

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

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