• What to Expect in the Hospital

    What to Expect in the Hospital

    • Hospital Admissions are for treatment of illness that cannot be treated at home or on an ambulatory basis
    • Diagnostic Admissions are no longer commonly performed as they are not covered by most insurance plans
    • The majority of admissions are emergencies through the ER or day of procedure admissions
    • Being Admitted the evening before your surgery or procedure is rare
    • Most rooms are semi-private (“roommate” and shared bathroom)
    • Morning Rounds- Depending on hospital (university, community, etc) you may be seen by all or some of the following: interns, residents, consultants, and your own doctor
    • Testing- bloods drawn at bedside; you are usually transported by wheelchair or stretcher for your other tests or exams
    • Afternoon Rounds – usually reserved for new admissions or patients in critical care units
    • Evenings – generally quiet (hopefully)


    Once you have been formally admitted to the hospital, the hospital transport service will bring you to your room and give the nursing staff your chart. You will be “admitted to the floor” by one of the staff nurses who will also tell you how to contact her if you need anything. At some point, a physician will stop by to examine you as well. In an academic center this is usually an intern or resident. In community hospitals, it may be your attending physician. In this age of “physician extenders,” the person who examines you may in fact be a physicians assistant.

    What will my hospital room look like?

    Generally speaking, there are two kinds of hospital rooms. In a private room you are the sole resident. A private room will likely have a bathroom, closet, end table, phone and television in addition to the bed. These rooms are not typically covered by your insurance, so they may cost you extra money. Exceptions are made if there are no other rooms available or if your diagnosis or condition requires isolation.

    The average room is a semi-private space in that you’ll share the room with another person. Otherwise, these rooms come with the same amenities as private rooms. Roommates and their visitors can be a problem if they don’t respect your right to privacy; if you are having problems with your roommate or their visitors, speak to the nurses. If the situation doesn’t improve, you can request a transfer, but there is no guarantee it will happen if the hospital is full.

    What will my daily routine be like?

    If you are not having a procedure performed that day, your time in the hospital will (hopefully) be rather boring. Depending on why you were admitted, you may have some testing, x-rays, or exams that need to be done to assess your condition. Hospitals tend to follow a regular rhythm and flow.

    You had better be fond of napping, because this rhythm tends to prevent more than a few hours of sleep at a time. Doctors, nurses and other staff will be stopping in to examine you, record your vital signs, take blood or administer medications throughout the day and night—although activity is particularly high in the early morning.

    What are Hospital Rounds?

    At the break of dawn, the hospital is coming alive as doctors, interns, residents and attendings get ready to review the day’s patients. Days start early because there may be lots of things to get done before testing and procedures can begin. These waves of activity are collectively known as Morning Rounds.

    On a medical floor or on a non-surgery day, what may seem like a cast of thousands will come in to see how you are doing. This when the doctors do their rounds. The interns and residents will want to examine you and talk to the attending about the best course of action for you on that day.

    Just when you think you can fall back to sleep, the nurses will take your vital signs and make their rounds. Then the technicians will come in to draw your bloods; but don’t go back to sleep—the dieticians and your food tray will soon be delivered.

    On the day of surgery, you will be prepped in the morning. Make sure you don’t eat anything even if a breakfast tray is delivered. You are what is referred to as NPO (nothing by mouth). Many surgeries have been cancelled because a patient ate something after midnight. This means your surgery will be rescheduled for later that day, the next day, or some other time depending on the hospital and your physician’s schedule.

    What’s with all the testing?

    You’ll undoubtedly notice the quantity and variety of testing you’ll undergo during a hospital stay. Unfortunately, aside from blood work and urine samples, all other test are performed outside of your room. You will be transported by bed or by wheelchair to the testing area where you sit and wait to be examined. Hopefully, wait time will be minimal, but bring something to occupy your mind while waiting just in case.

    Will I be able to have visitors in the hospital?

    All hospitals have slight variations on visiting hours, but they usually follow the same general guidelines:

    • You can have only one or two visitors at time.
    • Intensive care units limit visitors to 15 minutes.
    • Visiting hours start in the afternoon and will go to about 8 or 9pm.
    • Children under the age of ten are not usually allowed on patient floors. (Exceptions to this rule may be granted in the maternity ward when mom has given birth to a new sibling.)


    If you know that you will not want visitors during your stay, let people know in advance.

    What happens in the hospital at night?

    When all visitors have left and you have finished your evening meal, boredom will set in. Normal evening activities include watching television, reading a good book or simply trying to sleep for a few hours. Most hospitals allow for one immediate family-member to spend the night. They can usually get a pillow, a sheet and a reclining chair so they can sleep comfortably in your room.

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