Guidebook for New Hospital Patients

Guidebook for new Baptist patientsAt Baptist Memorial hospitals, your health, safety and well-being are our top priority. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and hope your visit is as pleasant as possible. While you are at Baptist, our goal is to exceed your expectations with friendly and responsive service. Our holistic approach to your care includes services for healing the body, mind and spirit. Here is a guidebook for our new hospital patients and returning patients needing additional information to prepare for your hospital stay.

Before Hospitalization: What to Know Before You Go

The following sections offer suggestions for you to follow before going to the hospital. By following these steps, you will be promoting your own safety.

Getting Started

Preparing for Your Hospital Stay
  • Review your medical history (conditions, previous surgeries, past illnesses) and be ready to share this information with your nurse or physician.
  • Carefully review with your doctor what will happen during your hospital visit. Ask questions about anything you don't understand.
  • Educate yourself about your condition, the test(s) you will undergo, etc. You can get written information from your doctor, reliable websites, support groups and the library. Learn as much as you can.

Get Your Medical Paperwork in Order

Before you enter the hospital, get your medical paperwork in order. Prepare an advanced medical directive - either a living will or a durable power of attorney for health care. These legal documents let your health care professionals and family know how you want to be cared for in case something happens and you can't decide for yourself. Discuss your decision with your physician and family members in advance so there aren't any surprises.

Keep important medical paperwork up-to-date in your home so it's ready when/if you have to go to the hospital. This will help speed up and enhance your care.

Your at-home file should include:

  • A completed, signed and notarized living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare decision making form.
  • A list of your current medications, including any over-the-counter drugs, herbal medicines and alternative products (include the dose, frequency and reason for taking each).
  • A list of all your allergies, including food, environmental and medication allergies.
  • A list of your physicians and their phone numbers.
  • A list of all pharmacies you use and their phone numbers.

The Joint Commission recommends that you ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate while you're in the hospital. Your advocate can assist you during stressful moments, remembering things you can't, making sure your wishes are respected, etc. It's a good idea to ask your advocate to stay with you in the hospital.

Choosing a Hospital

The following steps will help put you at ease about your hospital stay:

  • Ask if the hospital you plan to visit is accredited by Joint Commission. This indicates the extent to which that hospital has met established standards for safety and quality. All Baptist Memorial hospitals are Joint Commission accredited.
  • Find out if the hospital you plan to visit has a patient safety and quality program and how long they have been implementing it. Find out what specific safety and quality initiatives the hospital focuses on and what successes they've had.
  • Be sure not to bring valuables, including jewelry, credit cards and money, with you to the hospital.

Remember that you, your physician and the hospital staff have the same goal - improving your health and comfort. If for any reason you feel you aren't receiving the best care possible, talk to the nurse in charge or the hospital's patient relations representative. Know your rights. As a patient, you are entitled to safe and quality care, and Baptist is committed to that.

Preparing For Your Hospital Stay

As a patient at Baptist, you are an integral part of your own health care team. Your participation in your care and your diligence in following your own specific health care program as prescribed by your health care providers play a big part in your health outcomes. We encourage you to partner with us for the best results for you.


Patients admitted overnight will receive an admissions packet containing registration documents, as well as other helpful information. Please keep this booklet readily available during your hospital stay to assist our staff in keeping you and your family aware of information given to you during your hospitalization. You are being admitted to the hospital because your physician, who is a member of the medical staff, has requested it. Therefore, we will need to get some personal information from you, including financial and medical records required by law. These records are confidential and will not be released to anyone without your written consent.


To help reduce the time spent in the admissions office at the time of your hospitalization, you can let us know ahead of time that you are coming. Most insurance companies require prior approval or certification. Please notify your insurance company as soon as you think you will have to go to the hospital. Whether or not the insurance company is responsible for paying for your services depends on your policy with your insurance company. You and your physician are responsible for making sure you have met all the conditions of your policy. Many insurance companies require you to notify them no later than 48 hours after an emergency admission to the hospital.

Patient Bill of Rights

Patients treated in the hospital receive their Patient's Bill of Rights upon admission.

Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney

Upon admission, patients will be asked if they have a Living Will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. These documents are important so hospital staff may follow your wishes should you become incapable of making decisions pertinent to your care. If you have a living Will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care with you, a registration representative will gladly make a copy for you. If you have forgotten to bring your copy, please express your wishes to your nurses upon admission so they may document the information and notify your physician. However, it is most important that you make arrangements as soon as possible to have your Living Will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care brought to the hospital to be placed in your medical chart.

Making Your Wishes Known

Should you decide you would like to establish a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care while you are a patient, please contact Patient Registration. The document does require witnesses and notarized signatures. Neither hospital employees nor volunteers may witness or notarize this document. Please refer to the local phone book for notaries public.


Notify your health care provider about any medications you are currently takingPlease notify your health care provider about any medications you are currently taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements, as well as prescription medicines. Your health care providers also need to know if you have any allergies to medications, foods, etc. If you bring personal medications with you to the hospital, you should have your doctor's approval before taking them. Talk with your health care provider before taking anything you brought from home. You should give any medications that you brought into the hospital but don't need to a family member for safekeeping.


After being admitted to the hospital, you will receive an identification wristband. Please wear it on your wrist until you are discharged from the hospital. The band provides positive identification and is for your protection.


Please do not keep valuables or money with you because the hospital cannot be responsible for them. Security personnel can make arrangements to have your valuables locked up and will give you a receipt that must be turned in before you can get them back.

Electronic Appliances and Personal Items from Home

Electronic appliances, such as hair dryers, clocks, electric razors and curling irons, must be checked and approved by someone from nursing services before being used in your room. Televisions other than the one in your room are not allowed. Please do not bring pillows or blankets from home. If you need extra linens, please contact someone at the nurses' station. Also, any medications you bring into the hospital must be left with the nurse.

During Your Hospitalization

One of the best ways to help ensure you have a safe and positive hospital experience is by partnering with your health care provider. At Baptist, we have designed a program to help educate you about your care and what to expect from us. Through this initiative, we encourage you to take an active role in your health care program. By being involved, you have more control of your health outcomes and recovery.

Having a Positive Hospital Experience

The single biggest thing patients and their families can do to have a positive hospital experience is ask questions. If there's something you don't understand or if you're just curious, don't be embarrassed to ask about it. Your questions can help you while in the hospital, at your physician's office or at home.

These tips will help you promote your own safety while in the hospital.

  • Get to know the staff who will be caring for you. All health care professionals who come into your room will wear an ID badge that identifies them - check for it.
  • Before your health care providers perform any procedures or give you any medications, ask them to check your armband, as well as identify themselves and explain the reason for their visit.
  • Ask your health care providers if they've washed their hands. Often they do this before entering your room.

Remember that you, your physician and the hospital staff have the same goal- improving your health and comfort. If for any reason you feel you aren't receiving the best care possible, talk to the nurse in charge or the hospital's patient relations representative. Know your rights. As a patient, you are entitled to safe and quality care, and Baptist is committed to that.

Preventing Falls

Being in unfamiliar surroundings and taking medications can increase your chances for falling while in the hospital. Your health care provider will assess your potential for falling and will use hospital resources, such as side rails, identification items and emergency call lights, to help you while in the hospital. They will also orient you to the room and offer to help when you need assistance. It is important that you and your family partner with the hospital staff during this time to keep you safe.

While in the hospital, there are also some things you and your family can do to prevent falls from happening:

  • Share your complete medical history with the hospital staff so they can be aware of your risks for falls.
  • Any time you feel dizzy or unsteady, ask for help before moving from one place to another. Use the emergency call light.
  • Be aware of your limitations and move slowly.
  • Make sure your bed is in the low position before trying to stand.
  • Wear socks with slip guards or slippers with soft rubber soles.
  • Have a friend or family member stay with you at the hospital.
  • Keep the things you frequently need or want, such as eyeglasses or hearing aids, within close reach.

Hospital Medications

Notify your health care provider about any medications you are currently takingThe following tips will help you manage your medications safely:

  • Bring a list of the medications, including prescribed and non-prescribed, herbal products and vitamins, that you're taking prior to being admitted to the hospital.
  • After being admitted, stop taking these medications unless your provider instructs you to do otherwise.
  • Inform your caregivers of any allergies you have.
  • Always take all the medicines prescribed for you.

Ask Questions

While you're in the hospital, your physician may prescribe more than one medication for you. To help ensure you're receiving the appropriate medication, ask the following questions and record the answers so you can remember them:

  • What are the names of the medications I'm taking?
  • Why am I taking this medication?
  • What times will I be receiving a particular medication?
  • Can I see what my medications look like?
  • May I have a summary list of my discharge medications?

Know Your Prescriptions

Here are some other tips you can follow for safe medication use in the hospital and at home:

  • Get your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy.
  • Tell your physician and pharmacist all the medicines you take, including things you buy "over-the-counter," such as aspirin, antacids, ibuprofen, vitamins, or herbal products.
  • Make sure you know how to take your medicine; for example, are you to chew a tablet or swallow it whole, take with or without food, etc.
  • Measure your liquid medicines with an accurate dosing spoon, not a regular kitchen spoon, to make sure you're getting the correct amount.
  • Take your medications at the same time every day so you're more likely to remember to take them.
  • Check with your pharmacist on how to store your medicines; some need to be stored at room temperature in a dry place while others need to be kept in the refrigerator.
  • If you realize you forgot to take your medication, you should take it when you remember if it has not been more than four to six hours since you forgot it. If it is almost time for your next dose, just take your next dose. Do not double up on medications. If you have any questions about missed doses, call and ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Make sure you can read the handwriting on prescriptions your doctor writes.

Managing Your Pain

At Baptist we place an urgency on managing and treating your painAs a partner in your health care, your caregivers will depend on you to tell them how you feel. Based on your comfort level, your health care providers will develop a pain management plan for you while you're in the hospital. For this plan to be effective, you need to provide honest answers to questions about the pain you're experiencing - its intensity, longevity and interference with your daily activities. It's also a good idea to share with your physician what has worked to relieve your pain in the past.

Here are some other things you can do to help your caregivers keep you comfortable in the hospital:

  • Don't hesitate or be afraid to tell the hospital staff if you're in pain.
  • Don't wait to report pain. Pain is much easier to control when it first begins than when it has become intolerable.
  • Actively help your health care professionals assess your pain. Answer their questions as completely and honestly as you can.

Remember that you, your physician and the hospital staff have the same goal - improving your health and comfort. If for any reason you feel you aren't receiving the best care possible, talk to the nurse in charge or the hospital's patient relations representative. Know your rights. As a patient, you are entitled to safe and quality care, and Baptist is committed to that.

Medical Records

Obtaining your medical records may be easier than you think. Click here to learn more.