Preparing for Hospital Stays & Procedures

Whether they are unexpected or pre-arranged, planning for a hospital stay (inpatient) or day surgery (outpatient) procedure can be stressful and worrisome. Here are some practical articles on how to navigate planned and unexpected visits to hospitals, ERs or day-surgery (outpatient) facilities.

"Keep Cool" using the ICE technique!

Create ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts & documents IN ADVANCE

  • Current medication list, medical conditions/medical history, insurance & healthcare provider contact information--print, electronic, flash drive
  • Emergency contacts (e.g. print or electronic document or programmed into cell phone)
  • Also includes medical alert jewelry, wallet cards, etc.
  • Create Living Will, Power of Attorney for Health Care, and/or "5 Wishes" documents and share with providers, facilities, friends/family
  • HINT: Bring MULTIPLE copies!

Use the "Buddy System"

Don't try to navigate the healthcare system alone. Have a trusted partner, friend, relative or professional service provider accompany you for support and advocacy!

  • Buddies provide stress relief and companionship
  • Buddies can serve as another "set of eyes and ears," advocates, questioners, representatives of your wishes, communicators (to family/friends and health professionals)
  • Many procedures, surgeries, facilities will REQUIRE patients to be accompanied by an adult that can drive or escort patients home and be present during a procedure in case of emergency

Know Your W5H1s!


  • Check with insurance & healthcare providers, hospitals & outpatient facilities to find out the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How (W5H1)
  • If you are not clear about any aspect of the process, ASK and continue asking until you've been given an answer
  • Don't be rude--be empowered and understand your role and responsibilities in the process
  • Rely on your advocate (buddy or buddies) to ask on your behalf if you cannot!
  • Buddies, it is YOUR job to look out for your patient--little things mean a LOT!
Patients are responsible for:
  • Providing proof of insurance and understanding plan coverage
  • Providing a comprehensive list of medications (including prescription, over the counter, herbs & supplements)
  • Following directions regarding eating and drinking prior to any procedure or surgery
  • Asking about and following directions regarding taking (or refraining from taking) medications prior to procedures or surgery
  • Notifying health professionals if you come down with a fever, cold or any other illness prior to a scheduled procedure
  • Asking questions when unclear about any step in the process
  • Understanding diseases/conditions and treatment options (medications, procedures)

Waiting Room Tips

Subscribe to workshop