Going to the hospital isn’t what many people consider fun. Whether it is as a patient, a partner, or a visitor, hospital experiences are often extremely stress-provoking and nerve-racking. Maybe because we frequently go through such lengths to avoid having to go, when we do make the trip there can be a lot of questions about the most appropriate way to behave.
Of course, this can lead to an even more awkward and stressful experience. You may find yourself asking “should I really ask my doctor about that?” or “what can I offer as a visitor to a patient and what should I avoid doing?” Determining what is okay in a hospital setting versus what is frowned upon can be hard prior to actually being in the situation.
Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worth reviewing some of the best hospital etiquette. Doing so is just one simple way to make your trip to the hospital a little easier and more rewarding, and it is applicable whether you’re the patient or a guest visitor.
As a patient there are probably a thousand questions running through your head. Maybe one of the simplest yet most stressful ones is “what is the most appropriate thing to wear to the hospital?” Some people feel like they should dress up to see the doctor, but oftentimes nice, dressy clothing can make it harder for doctors to complete their exam and you may be asked to change into a gown anyway. In the grand scheme of things, dressing in something that is comfortable for you and that makes it easier for a doctor to examine the areas needed is the best.
It may feel weird to prepare yourself for a doctor’s visit by writing things down to talk about, but this can also be a great piece of etiquette. Rather than wasting your time and your doctor’s time, coming prepared with a list of medications, previous medical history, questions, and symptoms you’ve experienced can lead to a more productive visit. Ultimately, it can help your doctor make a better diagnosis and you get better treatment.
Perhaps the single most important piece of etiquette for hospital patients? Be honest! After all, you are there to get treatment for a problem. If you’re not honest about all the aspects of it, chances are you won’t receive the best treatment possible. Remember, you’re talking to a professional; they’ve heard it all at least a couple times before and aren’t going to be awkward about whatever you’re experiencing.
In many ways, being a visitor to the hospital is harder than being a patient. Though the loved one may not be able to do much from the hospital bed, visitors can. Or at least they think they can. There are plenty of tips for being the best visitor possible.
For instance, though you may think you’re being considerate, many hospitals don’t appreciate when loved ones bring in outside gifts. This is especially true with flowers, food, and drinks. Other patients may have allergies you aren’t aware of, or might be susceptible to fungal bacteria in plant pollen. Likewise, if hospital staff are attempting to monitor a patient’s food and drink intake, outside items may hinder their ability to do so.
Understanding general rules for visits is another form of etiquette. These rules can include things like limiting the number of visitors and keeping visits relatively short so patients can get some rest. Other things include avoiding conversation topics like other people you know that are very sick or allowing your emotions to get the best of you.
Respect Goes a Long Way
Respect is the single most important aspect of hospital etiquette. Hospital employees are professionals trained to help people — and they typically have a lot on their plate. Under no circumstances do they deserve to be treated poorly, yelled at, or otherwise abused. Many are in these careers because they want to be and they care about patients regardless of their status.
Beyond simply being kind and patient with caregivers, there are other ways to show your respect in a hospital. One of the first is to check in with front desk staff prior to making your way to a visit. Checking in can give hospital staff a chance to make sure the patient is ready for you and that there aren’t any major medical check-ins coming up that visitors need to leave for.
It can also mean being considerate of roommates if your loved one has one during their stay. Roommates are patients too — meaning they could be in pain, might be trying to get some rest, or may be dealing with emotional news. Keeping your voice down and giving them the space they need to be comfortable is the best way to treat them with respect.
Hospital etiquette is something that many of us might not be as familiar with, but in the end, it comes down to the same basics we experience everywhere else — most importantly, treating everyone with respect.
Photo is from pixabay
Guest Author Bio
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, and politics. You can follow her work on twitter @HamiltonJori, and through her portfolio at Writer Jori Hamilton.