Navigating Your Hospital Stay
Hospitals can be big, confusing places, especially if you've never been a patient in one before.
But by taking the time to learn about how hospitals work and what you can expect, you may be able to lower your stress and concentrate on what's important: feeling better.
Before You Go
There is much you can do ahead of time to make your hospital experience go more smoothly.
- Choosing a Hospital
- Choosing a Health Care Provider
- Understanding Health Insurance
- Preparing for Your Hospital Stay
- Preparing Your Child for the Hospital
Learn how to manage stress
- Stress Management
- Stress in Children and Teens
- Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking
- Tapping the Power of Optimism
Fill out important forms
What to Expect
How the hospital works
Being an active patient
- Better Care at Lower Costs
- Patient Rights and HIPAA
- Hospital Patient Advocates
- Work Closely With Your Doctor
- Working With More Than One Doctor
Making decisions about your treatment
- Smart Decisions: Know Your Options
- Medical Tests: Questions to Ask the Doctor (What is a PDF document?)
- Monitoring Your Medicines in the Hospital
- Prevent Medical Errors
- Keeping Track of Medicines
- Hospital Staph Infections (MRSA)
- Avoiding Infections in the Hospital
- Preventing Falls in the Hospital
Your child in the hospital
When—and After—You Leave
As a smart patient, you want to find out exactly what you need to do after you leave the hospital to stay as healthy as possible.
Taking charge of your health after you're home is one of the best ways to prevent a return trip to the hospital.
Other Places To Get Help
|Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Consumers & Patients|
|540 Gaither Road|
|Rockville, MD 20850|
This Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) website has evidence-based tips on staying healthy, choosing quality care, getting safe care, understanding diseases, comparing medical treatments, and more. AHRQ is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It supports research that will help people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of health care services.
|National Institute on Aging: Hospital Hints|
|P.O. Box 8057|
|Gaithersburg, MD 20898|
This website includes tips to help you prepare for a hospital stay. It also has information about health care workers in the hospital, hospital care for older patients, and patient rights.
|National Patient Safety Foundation|
|268 Summer Street, 6th Floor|
|Boston, MA 02210|
The National Patient Safety Foundation is an organization dedicated to improving the safety of patients. The foundation works to raise public awareness about patient safety and is a resource for people and organizations who are concerned about the safety of patients.
Other Works Consulted
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2011). 20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors. Patient Fact Sheet (AHRQ Publication No. 11-0089). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also available online:
- HealthGrades (2012). The Ninth Annual HealthGrades Patient Safety and Satisfaction Report. Denver: HealthGrades. Available online:
- Hyman D (2012). Advancing the quality and safety of care. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 1–8. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Sanders J (2011). Family-centered care of the child during illness and hospitalization. In MJ Hockenberry, D Wilson, eds., Wong's Nursing Care of Infants and Children, 9th ed., pp. 964–997. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
- Wachter RM (2012). Quality of care and patient safety. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 41–44. Philadelphia: Saunders.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Last Revised||December 18, 2012|
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