How long will I be in the hospital, and what do I need to bring?

Dear Navigator,

I am scheduled for surgery but have not come to your consent class. I have heard much information is covered in that class, but I have questions about the hospital stay.

Racheal Newmyer, RN

How long will I be in the hospital, and what do I need to bring?

These are great questions, and although they are covered in the consent class, they are frequently asked, which I thought would be an excellent topic for this “Dear Navigator” column.

How long will you be in the hospital?

You should expect to stay one or two nights in the hospital. A large majority of patients will go home the next day, but on occasion, if a patient is not meeting goals or the surgeon feels more time is needed, the patient will be instructed to stay an additional night. I constantly challenge my patients to work hard to get home.

What should you bring?

There are 6 things I recommend you bring with you for your stay at Erlanger.
  1. A pair of pajama pants or shorts with an elastic band. Hospital gowns will be provided for patients while in the hospital, but if you have ever worn a hospital gown, you know they are not very modest. You will be asked to walk a lot, starting the night of your surgery. To provide that modesty, bring comfortable, loose-fitting, or elastic-banded clothing.
  2. An easy, slip-on pair of shoes with good traction. A loosely laced tennis shoe or a slip-on-deck shoe provides good support and prevents falls while walking. Flip flops, though easy to slip on, are not great for traction and may put a patient at risk for a fall. If you don’t have a shoe that works, don’t worry! The hospital will give you a pair of socks with tread on the bottom that can be worn when walking in the hallways.
  3. CPAP or BiPAP. If you are a sleep apnea patient and wear one at home for sleep, we will want you to bring it for your hospital stay. They can assist in recovering patients after surgery and for rest while on the unit.
  4. Current home medication list. You may be instructed to hold a medication before surgery, or medications may be altered during your pre-operative diet to accommodate lower caloric intake. These changes must be relayed to pre-testing, but your nurse will verify them in the pre-operative area. Remember, we are human; don’t depend on your memory; write it down and bring it with you.
  5. Identification and wallet. Remember to bring a photo ID or driver’s license, insurance card, and cash or card to pay the co-pay for prescription medications. At Erlanger, a tremendous in-hospital program provided by CVS Pharmacy in our medical mall will bring your newly prescribed medicines for discharge directly to your room. CVS will ask that you pay your co-pay for this service. They may also need your insurance information if it is not on file with their company.
  6. Creature comforts and phone charger. No one likes to go without brushing their teeth, so bring the things you might need for a one-night stay anywhere. Though Erlanger can provide things like a toothbrush, if you forget, they may not be able to accommodate that favorite kind of chapstick or face wash. Don’t forget your phone charger; though there are phone tree stations around the hospital with the most phone charger connections, no one wants a dead phone when trying to connect with family.

A few other reminders:

  • No make-up, no face lotions. Don’t come looking like you’re going to host the morning news; au-natural is how we want you.
  • No nail polish. You may be asked to remove fingernail polish and fake nails to monitor your oxygenation with a pulse oximeter.
  • No metal. Make sure you remove it if it’s removed, as well as metal, such as rings, earrings, or other jewelry.

And that is my list. We hope it helps you as you prepare for your surgery day!

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