LFB Patient Guide: Being admitted to the Hospital; What’s That Like?

So you’ve spent the last four hours in the emergency room. Maybe it’s for a sniffle turned sinister or a stomach gone sour—whatever it is, the doctors have decided that you need a little more monitoring and are planning on admitting you overnight.

Being admitted to the hospital can be a scary thing for patients who have never had an overnight stay. Where will you sleep? Will you have to share a room with someone? Can your family come with you? Will you have to have an IV and when can you go home???

As someone who is a frequent flyer at my local hospital’s 6th and 8th floors, I think I can answer some of your more dire questions.

How do doctors decide if you need to be admitted to the hospital?

-Sometimes your doctor may order a direct admit where they will call ahead and even though you may still have to go through some of the emergency room procedures, a room will be arranged for you.

-Emergency room doctors will consider a variety of factors when it comes to the decision of whether or not to admit you. This includes consideration of your medical problem, past medical history, the possibility of your condition worsening, abnormal test results, unstable vital signs (high fever, low oxygen saturation) and whether or not you need surgical intervention.

What happens when a doctor decides to admit you to the hospital from the emergency room?

Prepare for a long wait, because it may take hours to find you a room upstairs. If you haven’t had one inserted already, you’ll be given an IV to help deliver fluids and medication.  Now would be a good time to send a friend or family member out to retrieve things you may need for an overnight stay.

Will I have to share a hospital room with someone?

Sometimes yes—sometimes no. Most hospital rooms are private—or semi-private. This all depends on what’s available that day and if your condition necessitates seclusion.  Contagious infections usually warrant a private room. Sometimes this is the case for certain GI issues as well. Having a roommate is not so bad though, you might even make a friend! (Like I did in this post! https://letsfeelbetter.com/can-i-come-home-yet-hospital-days-of-september/)

What will my nurse be like in the hospital?

There may be a short wait before your nurse comes in to check on you. Nurses are busy. They usually have way too many patients and not enough arms to dispense pills, take vitals, and call doctors. That’s why you’ll actually have multiple nurses assigned to you including your main nurse, a clinical nursing assistant and a charge nurse. Your main nurse will be the one who dispenses your medication, contacts your doctor, and manages your IV.

The clinical nursing assistant can help you get to and from the bathroom if you need help. They can also assist you if you need to use the shower, need water, blankets or other necessities.

The charge nurse is in charge of the other nurses, so if you have an issue with your care—she/he would be the one to contact.

Can my family visit me? Can my mom/dad/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife stay with me overnight in the hospital?

Your family is welcome to come and stay with you as long as they want—up until visiting hours are over, usually ending at 8:30PM. When I was a kid, my mom was allowed to sleep in the pediatric unit with me overnight, but this is not allowed in the main adult units.

What will be accomplished during my hospital stay?

Your doctors will be visiting your room early in the morning. They’ll talk to you about your treatment plan and if there are any tests you’ll be taking that day. Someone may be coming to transport you to a different floor for those tests.

What will I be allowed to eat during my hospital stay?

Your doctor may assign you a type of meal plan. There’s a liquid diet, partial liquid diet, low fat/cholesterol diet, diet plans for diabetes, etc.– and a regular diet. A menu will be delivered to you once a day for the next day’s meals. You’ll usually have two or three options for what meal you would like on your prescribed meal plan.

What toiletries/clothing will be provided to me in the hospital?

You’ll be given a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap to shower with, tissues, and a basin. You will also be provided with a hospital gown and socks.

When can I go home from the hospital?

Ultimately, your doctor will be the one deciding when your hospital stay is over. Discharge from the hospital usually occurs when your symptoms have resolved, or when you have recovered from surgery, or when a course of treatment has been determined and it is deemed safe for your to treat yourself at home.

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