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Hospitals can be frightening even to the bravest patient: A maze of corridors filled with people in “scrubs,” scurrying around and issuing orders just when you are feeling your worst. Here is a checklist to help you get ready and make your hospital visit as comfortable as possible.

Checklist 
Ask your doctor to explain the purpose of your hospitalization and what will happen. 
If you are having surgery, ask your surgeon to talk you through it, from anesthesia to the operation to recovery time and the expected outcome. 
Ask a family member or friend to come with you and serve as your advocate. 
Have legal documents in order, called “advance directives” or “health care directives.” Provide copies to your hospital, doctor, family and advocate. 
Make sure that the hospital has your accurate, up-to-date medical records. 
Comply with hospital requests for pre-admission tests and paperwork, including health insurance information. 
Clarify with your health insurance carrier what is covered and what may not be covered during your stay. 
Make sure the hospital provides you with a written copy of your patient rights. 
Pack a small bag with essentials, but leave valuables at home. 
Do not bring your own medications to the hospital. 
Upon admission, verify that your identification band is correct. Do not remove it. 
Be sure your chart reflects the drugs you must take regularly, and drug allergies. 
Ask questions about new medications: What is this, and why am I taking it? 
Limit hugs with visitors in order to minimize germs, and ask hospital staff to wash their hands in your presence. 
Before you are discharged, get instructions for post-hospitalization care. 
After you are home, call the hospital and/or your doctor if you have unusual or painful after-effects. In an emergency, dial 911. 

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