Hospital Stays and ER Visits

Hospital Stays and ER Visits

Talking with a doctor during a hospital stay or in the emergency room (ER) can be stressful.

Hospital Schedules

Most hospitals have a daily schedule. This means that things like your doctor visits, medical tests, and meals will be at a similar time each day. It may be helpful to know this schedule and talk to your doctors and nurses about how much choice you have about your daily schedule. Make sure you know what time your doctor will visit you so that you have your questions ready.

Questions for the Hospital Staff

  • How long do you think I will be in the hospital?
  • What doctors and other medical staff will take care of my health?
  • When will I see my doctor?
  • What will be my daily schedule during my hospital stay?

What to Bring to the ER

A visit to the ER can be especially stressful. It may go more smoothly if you can take along:

  • your health insurance card or policy number
  • a list of your medications
  • a list of your health problems
  • the names and phone numbers of your doctor
  • one or two family members or friends

Some people find it helpful to have this information with them at all times.

During your ER visit, ask questions if you do not know what a doctor or other medical staff is doing, such as what medical tests are being done. Make sure you understand what the ER doctor tells you about your health, or ask him or her to write it down.

Also, make sure you know if there is anything special you need to do after you go home from the ER. For example, if you have a bandage, find out when and how to change it. Tell your regular doctor(s) as soon as possible about your visit to the ER.

Questions for the ER Staff

  • Will you talk to my regular doctor about my care?
  • Do I need to make special doctor visits for my health problem?
  • Can you write down what I need to do to care for my health problem?
  • Is there someone who speaks my language and can explain what I need to do for my health problem? (If you speak a different language.)

Source:  NIH Senior Health