10 Tips: Packing for a Hospital Stay
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR
If you know you're being admitted to the hospital, taking some time to plan
and prepare can make your stay more comfortable and less stressful. The
following checklist can help you decide what you need to bring with you and
ensure you haven't left anything out.
- Documents and paperwork.
Ideally, you should bring all the necessary paperwork in one folder,
preferably the kind with a tie or snap closure to guarantee that important
documents will not be lost. Don't forget insurance cards, a list of all the
medications you are currently taking, and a list of telephone numbers of
family and friends. If you have a written power of
attorney or living will, always bring those along with you too.
- A small amount of money for newspapers, vending machines, and such.
Bringing credit cards or large amounts of cash is not recommended, since
theft can occur in hospitals. It is also a good idea to leave all jewelry at
home, it is one less thing to worry about losing or being stolen.
- Clothing. You may want to bring comfortable pajamas or lounging clothes,
if you'll be able to wear your own clothing. Bring a supply of loose-fitting
underwear and comfortable socks. Nightgowns or nightshirts are better for
women than pajama sets with pants, and short-sleeved shirts are best to
accommodate any intravenous (IV) lines you may require. A cardigan-style
sweater or bed jacket can help ward off the chills. Make sure you have
slippers to walk around in the hospital and one pair of regular shoes (in
case you're allowed to walk outside, and you'll need them for the trip home
- Eyeglasses, if you require them.
- Writing paper and pen, for making notes or recording questions you want
to ask your doctor.
- A prepaid phone card for calls from your room telephone.
- Toiletries. You can bring
your toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, soap, shampoo, a comb or hair
brush, and other toiletries from home, but avoid perfumes and any highly
scented products. Lip balm is also a good addition to your
- Something to occupy your time - Bring books or magazines to help pass
the time. If you enjoy a craft that is fairly portable (like knitting or
crochet) that doesn't involve glue, paint, or lots of small pieces, bring
those supplies along too.
- Photos or small personal items. Many people enjoy having a couple of
small framed photos or mementos from home to personalize their hospital
Last Editorial Review: 3/10/2006
- Finally, check the hospital's policy about electronic items before you pack your laptop, portable DVD
player, MP-3 or CD player, or cell phone. In
particular, cell phone use is forbidden in many hospitals since it may
interfere with electronic patient monitoring equipment. Don't forget that
high-end electronic items can also be targets for theft - if you are allowed
to bring them, make sure that a relative or friend takes them home or that
they can be safely stored when you're sleeping or not in your room.