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What To Take With You To The Hospital

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Following is a list of items that can make a hospital stay more comfortable while saving time and possibly money. 

Documentation

  • Health insurance card.
  • If you donated blood to have on hand in case you need it, take a certificate showing you donated your own blood..
  • Three copies of a current list of the medications you take. Be sure to include over-the-counter drugs, supplements and herbs as well as prescription drugs   For a helpful form that is easy to keep to date. Click here. (As a side note, it is advisable to carry an up-to-date copy of the List with you in your wallet in case of emergency).
  • Three copies of your Advance Directives, the legal documents which contain your wishes if you need medical care and become unable to speak for yourself.. If you do not have an advance directive such as a Health Care Power Of Attorney or a Living Will, click here. Everyone should have such documents to make wishes known "just in case."  "Just in case" can happen anywhere, including in a hospital. NOTE: A Health Care Power of Attorney also allows someone to visit you that may ordinarlly be kept out by the hospital's rules.

Medical

  • A supply of the drugs, supplements, vitamins etc. that you normally take. The hospital may insist on supplying the drugs, but at least you'll have yours handy in case there's a delay or a slip up. 
  • NOTE: Do not take any drugs in hospital without checking with the medical staff first in case they interfere with treatments or drugs you receive in hospital

Financial

  • A means of keeping track of all services and treatments you receive while in the hospital for use when it's time to check the hospital bill or insurance reimbursement. This could be anything from a paper pad to an electronic device such as a laptop.
  • If you are unable at times to keep track, ask a family member or friend to do it for you.  While this may seem like overkill, studies show that a very large percentage of hospital bills are incorrect, usually in the hospital's favor. For more information, click here.

Things to make you feel comfortable

  • Bring any necessary walking aids, such as canes or walkers. The hospital will have them, but you are used to your own items.
  • Clothing items
    • Comfortable slippers or other foot covering.
    • Comfortable pajamas or a night gown - preferably without metal zippers or snaps (in case you need diagnostic tests such as an MRI). 
      • Choose clothing that will not press on an area that will be treated or cause you undue strain as you dress.
      • Take shirts with easy sleeves that can accommodate an IV line.
      • Consider adding a personal item that will help you feel better in the hospital.
    • If you will need to keep your body as available to hospital personnel as it would be in a hospital gown, consider purchasing a more stylish covering, such as those available at www.healingthreads.com offsite link
    • Think about taking warm socks. 
    • Both men and women should consider packing a pair of baggy boxer shorts for the times when you are told to "take everything off and put on this gown with the opening in the back."
    • Only take clothing and other items which can be easily disinfected when you leave the hospital. There is no reason to take hospital germs into your home.
  • Personal items with which to decorate your room to make it feel more home-like, such as photographs.  Digital frames with changing photos allows you to have more images with you in a small space.
  • Electronoic devices
    • A means with which to keep contact at work and/or with friends and family. Smart phones, tablets and laptops allow you to communicate via video, telephone and internet. (Most hospitals provide wi-fi or an internet connection.) NOTE: If you take an expensive item to a hospital, also consider how to keep it safe when not in use.
    • The same devices can be used to download magazines, books and music which can help you relax. A headset will help prevent disturbing a roommate. 
    • They can also be used for virtual visits with family and friends via such services as Skype offsite link, and to play games on your own or with others virtually.
    • If you want to activate the hospital's telephone system instead of using your own mobile phone, ask if you can bring an answering machine. If so, you can purchase an inexpensive answering machine.  An answering machine will prevent you from being disturbed when you want to rest. You can monitor your calls and speak when you want to. If you want, you can leave a daily message letting people know how you are doing. 
  • If you do not have or cannot borrow an electronic device, take material with which to keep your mind engaged. 
  • Personal care
    • If you prefer only using your own toiletries, take them. It is advisable to avoid scented products. They may affect a roommate.
    • Men: avoid plug-in razors. The local fire code or nearby use of oxygen may prohibit use. Battery operated razors are okay, as are regular razors.
    • If applicable take the things you use at home to make yourself more presentable, such as turbans or other head coverings.
  • For sleep:
    • Eye and ear covering for sleep because hospitals can be very noisy. If it helps, consider bringing a device that creates white noise.
    • Your favorite pillow or blanket to help you sleep better.
    • If you use a special mattress at home (such as an eggshell mattress), ask if the hospital can supply something similar. If you make the request before admission, it is more likely that the hospital can meet your needs.
  • A small amount of cash in case you have to pay out-of-pocket for such items as newspapers.
  • NOTE: It may be helpful to have someone bring your mail and newspaper on a daily basis. 

Do not take

  • Expensive jewelry
  • Scented toiletries in case you feel nausea at some time or in case your roommate does. In addition, it prevents the after effect that you associate the scent with the hospital.
  • Wallets, purses, substantial amounts of money and credit cards.

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