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Going to hospital: What happens once you’re admitted

Going to hospital? Here’s what you can expect during your stay.

Going to hospital can be a stressful and worrying time for anyone, even if you’re only booked in for a minor procedure. Read on for details of what you can expect during your time in hospital, as well as what you can do to ensure that your stay runs as smoothly as possible.

Getting to hospital

The first thing to consider is actually getting to hospital on time. You can ask a friend or family member to give you a lift, you may be able to drive yourself, you could catch public transport or you might want to pre-book a taxi.

Just make sure you leave enough time to allow for any unexpected traffic delays, and check ahead to find information about parking and public transport timetables to avoid any unnecessary stress on the day.

In most cases, you will be required to attend a pre-admission clinic before you are admitted to hospital.

As well as providing information about your treatment, this clinic will also help you understand where you need to go when you get to hospital, and what you can expect during your stay.

What do you need to bring?

You’ll need to remember to take a wide range of important items and documents with you when you go to hospital, including:

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your private health insurance details
  • Any other health care or concession cards
  • Any scans, X-rays and other test results relating to your admission
  • Your driver’s licence or other proof of ID
  • Your admission letter from the hospital and any other admission forms you were required to complete
  • Clothes, pyjamas and toiletries
  • Any medications you are currently taking or any medical or mobility aids you require
  • Pregnant women being admitted to the maternity ward will need a range of extra items, including nappies, baby wipes, baby clothes, nursing bras and more
  • A book to read or some other acceptable form of entertainment

During your stay

You’re entitled to receive a certain standard of treatment and care from your doctors and the hospital. Not only do you have a right to be treated with respect and dignity, but you also have a right to Informed Financial Consent, which means you must be kept informed of how much treatment will cost and whether any changes to your condition will affect this.

Your specialist will provide you with instructions on what you need to do after you have been discharged, to provide the best possible recovery. Listen to this advice and, if needed, ask for a written copy so that you can do everything possible to get back on your feet.

You could also ask a range of questions about how you can best manage your health once you’re out of hospital, such as:

  • Are there any signs and symptoms I should watch out for?
  • When do I need to make a follow-up appointment?
  • When can I return to work / other normal activities?
  • Will I need to take any medication?
  • What else can I do to help with my recovery?

During your stay in hospital you may also be referred to an allied health professional who can provide follow-up treatment and help you enjoy a quicker recovery. Allied health professionals include physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists, social workers, podiatrists and more.

Other factors to consider during your stay

  • Visiting hours. Ask the hospital for details on visiting hours and regulations. Find out who is considered “family” and when people are allowed to visit you following surgery.
  • Television. Many hospitals will charge you for the use of a TV.
  • Telephone. Most hospitals restrict the use of mobile phones, while you may also be charged for the cost of making calls from your hospital room landline.
  • Internet. Many hospitals offer access to Wi-Fi, but this usually comes with a fee attached.
  • Meals. Ask hospital staff for details on when meals are served and how you can place your order. You should also inform the staff of any dietary restrictions and allergies.
  • Further assistance. If you are vision impaired, ask the hospital to provide all forms in large print or Braille format. If you have a hearing impairment, you can request an Auslan interpreter for all communication with hospital staff. Finally, if you’re in a wheelchair, hospital staff can provide any assistance you need to ensure accessibility to facilities.

Hospital admission statistics

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that from 2010-11 to 2014-15:

  • The number of hospitalisations increased by an average of 3.2% in public hospitals and 4.0% in private hospitals each year.
  • The number of patient days in public hospitals increased an average of 1.2% per year.
  • The number of patient days in private hospitals increased an average of 2.8% per year.
  • However, the average length of stay decreased slightly, from 3.5 to 3.2 days in public hospitals and from 2.4 to 2.3 days in private hospitals.

In 2014-15, there were a total of almost 10.2 million hospitalisations in Australia:

  • 60% of these were same-day hospitalisations (6.0 million).
  • 59% occurred in public hospitals (6.0 million).
  • 41% occurred in private hospitals (4.2 million).
  • There were over 5.3 million hospitalisations for females and 4.8 million hospitalisations for males.

Need more information about hospitals in Australia? Check out our page on Private vs Public Hospitals: Wait Times and Safety.

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Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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