Keys to a Better Hospital Stay

Illnesses and accidents are unpredictable and we can’t always predict when we may end up in a hospital. Here are some tips to prepare and how to maintain a sense of control in the mysterious world of the hospital.


  1. Always wear clean underwear but don’t count on it staying clean if you’re surprised by an accident.
  2. Don’t miss an opportunity to use a washroom.
  3. Remember to wash your hands!



Essential Medical Information

  1. Your Medical History A one-page summary should include: allergies, chronic conditions, past illnesses and surgery, and family medical history
  2. Your Medicationsdrug name, dose, directions

and reason for taking it

e.g. Brand name: Tylenol

Generic name: acetaminophen

Dose: 325 mg

Directions: one tablet twice daily

Reason: for knee pain

  1. Your Preferences: An Advance Directive is a statement of what kind of medical care you would want in the event that you are unable to make your own decisions.

What procedures do you want?

What procedures do you refuse?

Under what conditions?

Who do you choose to make decisions for you?

e.g. You may not wish to have CPR (chest compressions, assisted breathing, a tube down your throat, electric paddles on the chest) if you had an irreversible, terminal condition with no hope for a return to an acceptable quality of life (by your standards).

You may not wish to be kept alive on machines if you were in a persistent coma with no hope of recovery.


Always plan in advance.

Talk it over with your family and friends (to avoid difficult family conflicts).

Choose someone you trust to respect your wishes.

Inform your doctor.

Put it in writing.

For more information: google “My Voice”


Comfort Items ear plugs, music, reading, word puzzles, eye mask for sleeping, toothbrush and paste, warm socks, non-slip slippers, a sweater


To Keep You Oriented a calendar,a quiet inexpensive clock


For Communication a pad of paper, pens, your glasses, hearing aid and teeth


What NOT to bring expensive jewelry, watches, electronics, wallets, purses, credit cards, your nicest clothes and shoes, and other prized possessions


Don’t bother with perfume or cologneYour neighbours may have allergies and respiratory problems



  1. Stay in control (and informed)

4 Things you need to know about every test, procedure and treatment

  1. The purpose or reason
  2. Common side effects or risks
  • Serious side effects or risks
  1. Alternatives (e.g. other treatments)
  2. Know your team
  3. Ask for each person’s name and role

(e.g. nurse, respiratory technician, dietician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist)

or specialty (e.g. family physician, hospitalist, surgeon, internist)

  1. Ask who is your attending or most responsible physician
  2. Set up a channel of communication

Prepare your list of questions.

Find out when your attending doctor will visit.

Key questions: What is the plan? The working diagnosis? The schedule of tests or procedures?

The results of tests? The expected day of discharge?


This information could be shared on a WHITE BOARD in your room or a large pad of paper at your bedside.


Make sure your family doctor knows you are in hospital and that hospital reports are sent to the office He or she can provide important medical information to your hospital care team

Preparing for Your Hospital Stay

Three Keys to Improving Your Hospital Stay

The Lonely Patient’s Guide to Hospital Land


Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in Burnaby Division of Family Practice, Medical Ethics, patient-doctor relationship and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s