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Preparing for Your Hospital Stay


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.

  • Make your wishes known to loved ones.

    Before you go into the hospital, fill out an advance care plan. This is a document that states your wishes about end-of-life medical treatment and names a substitute decision-maker, someone you choose who will make medical decisions on your behalf when you're not able to do so.

    It's smart to have your advance care plan ready—and to make sure your loved ones know where it is—because in the unlikely event that it is needed, it 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:
      • Your insurance card.
      • A list of emergency contact names and phone numbers.
      • A list of all medicines.
    • Decide which personal and comfort items you want to bring, such as:
      • Your eyeglasses.
      • Your cell phone and charger or a prepaid phone card.
      • Toiletries, like soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, and a shaver.
  • Make a last-minute checklist.
    • Shower or bathe before you leave. If you're having surgery, don't shave the surgery area yourself.
    • Remove any nail polish or makeup.
    • Remove all jewellery, including wedding rings. Not only can these things get in the way of some tests and treatments, they can also be places where germs collect and multiply.


Adaptation Date: 8/3/2022

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.