Essential Items to Pack in Your Hospital Bag Before Your Next Stay

Get prepared for your next hospital stay with this comprehensive checklist of essential items to pack in your hospital bag.

Article By:  

Ruben Castaneda and Kristine Crane | Medically reviewed by Paul Krieger, MD

Blog Source From : https://www.usnews.com/

It’s important to prepare for your hospital stay.

Going to a hospital is inherently stressful, whether you’re heading there for an emergency situation, a series of tests or for elective surgery.

Preparing for your stay can help make it less stressful, says Bianca Radney, vice president of patient and family experience for Texas Health Resources in Arlington, Texas. Bringing items you’ll need, including important documents and health care items, can help your hospital health care providers do their job and make your stay less stressful.

“Knowing what to pack and what to leave at home can help ease the stress some patients feel as they prepare for a hospital stay,” Radney says. “Having information that is key to care, such as a list of prescriptions, along with items that bring added comfort allow patients, doctors and nurses to focus on medical procedures and recovery.”

To help patients preparing for surgery figure out what they need to bring to the hospital, Texas Health provides a surgery checklist.

Here are 12 must-pack items for a hospital stay:

1. Advance directive

An advance directive, which many people with chronic conditions such as cancer have, is a legal document that details the type of medical care you desire if you become gravely ill and are near death. The directive specifies what type of medical treatments the patient wishes to receive and which ones they don’t want. The document can designate an individual who will make sure the patient’s health care decisions are honored.

If you have an advance directive, you should bring that to the hospital, Radney says.

2. Basic toiletries

Whether you plan on staying at the hospital for one night or for several, it’s a good idea to bring basic toiletries, like your own toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss. Many people these days use battery-powered or electric toothbrushes and would prefer to keep using those brushes during their stay. If you grind your teeth when you sleep and wear a night guard to protect your teeth, be sure to include that in your hospital bag as well.

If you prefer a specific type of deodorant, shampoo, shaving razor, shaving cream, hair conditioner or soap, pack those items. Hospitals can provide these items, but many individuals are particular about which products they use.

3. Books and magazines

You’re likely to have lots of down time between tests and procedures, so it would be a good idea to bring reading material, says Gary Mennie, an obstetrician-gynecologist based in Port Arthur, Texas.

Want to read the latest hot mystery novel? Looking to catch up on a well-reviewed nonfiction book on contemporary politics? Feeling guilty about copies of The New Yorker that are stacking up in your bedroom? Pack them in your bag and read away. If you have an electronic tablet, you can download several books on your device, without having to pack physical books.

“Reading is wonderful if you don’t want to watch TV in your room,” Menni says. “Otherwise you’re sitting in your room, bored.”

4. Cellphone, charger and earbuds

You’ll need your cellphone to communicate with family members who can’t visit. Once you’re out of surgery, your cellphone will allow you to stay in contact with loved ones via text or phone calls. Remember to bring your charger and to take it with you when you leave. Patients sometimes forget to pack their charger when they’re discharged from the hospital.

You can also use earbuds to watch TV shows, video and movies on your cellphone without annoying your roommate.

5. A friend or a loved one

Of course, you won’t literally “pack” a friend or a loved one, but it’s important that someone who knows you and your health history is with you at the hospital as much as possible, says Dr. Joyce Wahr, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The presence of a relative or trusted friend could help you stay calm and centered before your procedure, whether it’s life-saving heart surgery that will require several days of post-surgical recovery in the hospital or an operation to reduce an enlarged prostate, after which the patient can go home the following day.

Having someone you trust with you is also important after the surgery, when the patient is sedated and may not be as cognitively sharp as usual for a day or two.

“Having someone to hear what the doctors and nurses say who can also ask questions and advocate for the patient is very important,” Wahr says. “Patient’s families and friends know a lot about the patient and can help get the right care for (them).”

Ideally, you should have at least one friend or family member with you each day you are in the hospital, to help keep your spirits up, to keep track of what doctors and nurses are saying about your care and recovery and to speak up for you if needed, says Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, author of the book “Reimagining Customer Service in Healthcare” and founder of Jenerations Health Education, a health care consulting firm based in Chester, Maryland.

In the COVID-19 era, many hospitals prohibited hospital visitors. Now, three years into the pandemic, some continue to restrict or even prohibit hospital visits.

“Push back if the hospital refuses you the right to have a minimum of one visitor,” FitzPatrick says. “Everyone needs at least one family member or friend to cheer them up, distract them and to serve as an advocate.”

6. A comfortable robe and pajamas

If you want to wear something more robust than a flimsy hospital gown, it’s OK to bring your favorite robe or comfortable pajamas, Mennie says. Some people tend to feel cold and will feel more comfortable wearing their own fleece or cotton robe or loose-fitting nightwear.

These kinds of nightclothes shouldn’t hinder the efforts of nurses to check your blood pressure, draw blood or conduct other needed tests.

7. Hearing aids

If you use hearing aids due to hearing loss, be sure to bring them to the hospital. It will be vital to be able to clearly hear what your nurses and doctors tell you about your procedure and your recovery, says Tanya Barahona, a registered nurse and patient educator at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, California.

Whether your doctor or nurse is asking you about your prescriptions or how you’re feeling, you’ll need to be able to hear the questions clearly. It’ll help make sure you’re able to ask doctors questions, as well.

8. Identification and insurance documents

Whatever procedure you’re scheduled for, you’ll need identification – such as a driver’s license or another government-issued ID card – and proof of health insurance when you check in at the hospital registration desk.

It might be a good idea to keep all of your important documents in a particular pocket of a backpack or inside a file folder, so you can quickly and easily access them.

9. A pen and notepad

It’s likely that your health care provider will be telling you important information about your symptoms, test results and procedure during your hospital stay. The volume of information may feel overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to bring a notepad and a pen to help you keep track of what your hospital physicians and nurses say about your procedure, recovery and your treatment.

In addition to documenting symptoms, procedures and test results, you want to write down anything else that seems relevant to your care or your patient experience, FitzPatrick says.

Consider jotting down the names of staff members who are particularly helpful so you can ask for them if you need an ally or advocate. You also want to document if there are any positive or negative experiences so you can remember them when you are asked to complete a review of the hospital.

“Hospitals take those comments very seriously,” FitzPatrick says.

10. Medications and allergies list

The most important item to pack for a hospital stay is a current list of your medications, says Wahr. Your health care providers in the hospital will need this information to make sure you take the medications you need and to avoid giving you any meds that might interact or affect you in an adverse way. For instance, some medications can increase the risk of heart failure. Your hospital physicians will also need to know if you’re allergic to any medications, like penicillin.

Wahr notes that many patients have multiple physicians for different medical conditions and may use more than one pharmacy, which may make it feel overwhelming to construct an accurate and comprehensive list of medications and allergies for your hospital health care providers. If that is your situation, your primary health care provider should be able to help you compile a list of your prescription medications and allergies.

It’s also a good idea to bring a list of your health care providers and their contact information, in case your hospital physicians need to consult with them about your medications or your treatment.

11. Your medications

On top of your list of meds, don’t forget to bring along the actual medications too. You’ll typically want to keep taking your prescription medication during your hospital stay, Mennie says. Be sure to let your hospital doctors and nurses know what medications you take.

Bring your medications in their original containers. If you’re taking heart medication or meds for depression, you should try to maintain your usual regimen.

12. Sleep aids

An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnea, according to the American Medical Association. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which your breathing stops and starts repeatedly. Snoring loudly and feeling exhausted after a full night’s sleep could be an indication of the disorder.

Many people with sleep apnea use a CPAP mask to help them get some shuteye. The masks connect to a CPAP machine that provides a continuous stream of pressurized air through an air filter into a flexible tube, which delivers purified air into the mask.

If you use a CPAP mask or other sleep aids – such as an eye mask or ear plugs – to help you get some shuteye, let your doctor know you use them and be sure to pack those items in your hospital bag.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *