When people visit you in the Hospital

During your hospital stay, you can expect many people to walk in and out of your room: physicians, nurses, technicians, food service aides, and other hospital employees, and of course visitors. The friends and family who come to see you can be a great source of comfort, but they can also be disruptive and may insist on talking to you when you’re tired, uncomfortable, or just not in the mood for guests. Here are some coping strategies:

  • Urge people to call before visiting so you can tell them what time would be convenient or that you’re not feeling up to having company Don’t feel obligated to see everyone who wants to visit.
  • Don’t feel that you have to respond to prying questions. Give vague answers, such as “They’re working on that,” or “They’re waiting for test results.” If pressed, say “I’d rather not talk about that.” Then bring up another subject.
  • Encourage visitors to talk about themselves. That takes the focus off topics you’d rather not discuss.
  • Be aware that according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, your family and friends have no right to medical information about you without your authorization, and the staff should not be expected to give them any such information.
  • Ask people who have a cold or any other communicable illness to stay away.
  • Don’t argue with visitors who think they have all the answers about the best way to treat your illness.
  • If you want to limit your visits to, for example, close relatives, ask a nurse to post a sign saying, “Immediate family only.” Or you can request a sign that reads, “No visitors. Inquire at the nurses desk.”
  • Don’t hesitate to tell visitors that the visit is over. A remark such as “I need to rest now” should suffice.
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