On your way to the hospital for a visit or an extended stay?
Is this a planned event or an emergency run?
Whatever the reason or circumstance, here is some useful information.
WHN TIP – Be safe, be smart and be prepared!
Not Sure What to Bring?
- Your Medical History Data Sheet that lists your allergies, health conditions and medications. (Tips at 4 Areas To Cover in Your Medical History Data Sheet.) Download the free My Personal Medication Record pdf from the AARP in English or Spanish. Complete one form for each family member, and update as needed.)
- Your family’s medical history to provide the doctor will important background information. (Read our 3 FAQs About Creating a Family Medical History for details.)
- All OTC and prescription medications that you take regularly.
- Your driver’s license or other photo I.D., insurance, Medicare or Medicaid card(s). Check your insurance policy or talk to your agent about co-pays.
- A copy of a living will and/or a medical power of attorney, if you have one
WHN TIP – Tracking Form: Print out the WHN Hospital Stay Tracking Form to help you track new and old medications, tests ordered, staff contact information and so on.
WHN TIP – Get an Advocate: Secure at least one advocate — a friend or family member who can be with you 24 hours a day. If you don’t have a friend or relative available, you can contact organizations such as the Patient Advocate Foundation. Read 4 Tips For Being a Patient Advocate for details.
WHN TIP: Second Opinion. Read 5 FAQs About Getting a Second Opinion if you’ve received a major health diagnosis or need surgery or other significant treatment.
Going Through the ER?
- Don’t eat or drink once you arrive in case a test is ordered.
- Don’t take any medications, even over-the-counter ones, without asking the nurse.
- Expect to be asked the same questions more than once.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re in pain or need to take specific meds at a certain time (like insulin). It can be busy in the ER, but that doesn’t mean your legitimate concerns or needs can’t be addressed.
Read 9 Things to Expect at the ER for more tips.
WHN TIP – Kid-Tips: Make the hospital wait easier for the little ones. If you have children, ask if the ER has a toy closet to keep children entertained during long waits. But plan ahead and bring a few small (and quiet) items likes crayons and coloring books or a deck of cards.
Ready to Go Home?
- Get your discharge instructions in writing and make sure you fully understand them.
- If you can’t drive (too woozy or weak), call a friend or take a taxi. You can always come back the next day to pick up your car.
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