Hospital Visits: Follow the Hospital Rules

Wash Your Hands!

Wash Your Hands!

Hospitals have lots of rules.  They tell you about hygiene and safety, where you can and cannot go, when you can visit, what you need to do before you enter a room, what information you are allowed to know or share about a patient, and all sorts of other things.

While you may not always understand the why behind a rule, it is important that we follow them.  Nearly all of the rules are to protect you, the patient, or the hospital and staff.  Besides, we’re guests there, and we want to remain welcome.

Here are some major rules that you’re likely to encounter in any hospital:

1.  Always wash your hands just before and just after leaving a room.  In most cases, using the alcohol gel will suffice, but on some occasions, you’ll be instructed to use a special soap and water.  This practice is to prevent the spread of infections within the hospital, a significant problem.

2.  Sometimes you may be required to wear protective clothing:  masks, gloves, gowns, shoe covers, or even caps, depending on the patient’s condition.  This is either to protect you, protect the patient, and/or to prevent the spread of infection.  Signs will be clearly posted, and if you have questions, the medical staff will be happy to help you.

3.  Some units in hospitals have restricted visiting hours, particularly Intensive Care Units.  Call ahead if you’re uncertain.  These will also generally restrict the number of people who may visit at once.

4.  Some patients have visitor restrictions, either due to their own wishes or imposed by the hospital because of their condition.  Honor these, and if in doubt, check with the patient’s nurse.

5.  Patient privacy is a huge issue for hospitals and for us as vistorsHIPAA, the federal Health Information Privacy rule, strictly limits what information may be shared about a patient.  The hospital staff can provide only very limited information.  That’s okay, because you really don’t need to know any details about a patient’s condition to make an effective visit.  And, by-the-way, you should not talk about the patient’s condition either.  We’ll deal with that in another post.

  1. Maria says:

    Protecttive clothing really does help even for visitors coming in. Thanks for posting, i found it really helpful.

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