Going to the Hospital

The decision to go to a hospital – or not – can be confusing. Here are a few things to consider that may help you decide whether to seek healthcare.

If you are feeling ill, you may seek help at a hospital’s emergency department. You may take yourself there, or ask family or friends to take you. You may call 911 for emergency services or ask someone to call 911 or the appropriate number for an ambulance.

When calling to request an ambulance, consider the following:

  • What physical condition you are in and how quickly it might worsen
  • Your ability to get to the hospital safely by other means
  • Your past medical problems
  • If more than one person needs an ambulance

If you are ill and think you need to go to the hospital by ambulance, do not wait. Call immediately. Here are some conditions that might require an ambulance.

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (rapid heartbeat)
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Trauma, unless minor
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Moderate to severe headache
  • Problems with vision or speech
  • High fever
  • You require medical care on the way to the hospital

Your doctor may also request or arrange for you to be taken to the hospital. He/she could see you in the office or clinic and make a direct admission. Or, perhaps you are a nursing home or rehabilitation patient and you require admission. Or maybe you are transferring from another hospital. With elective admission, you require hospital care, but choose to wait for a more convenient time. Often, your best choice is the hospital where your doctor practices. Your doctor knows you best and can generally direct your care in a more efficient manner. He/she has a better understanding of your past medical history and health care needs.

Family, friends, or others may take you or arrange for you to go to the hospital. Their reasons might include these:

  • You cannot convey your desires; for instance, you may be confused following a stroke or seizure or if your blood sugar is low.
  • You are obviously ill and require medical care.
  • You require medical care on the way to the hospital.
  • You have incurred some trauma—a motor vehicle accident, fall, burn, or electrical injury.

What you should bring to the hospital
If you take multiple medications or have a complex medical history, you may want to keep a list of these in your wallet or purse at all times. (If the hospital grants permission, you may be able to control costs by taking your own medications while you’re admitted.)

The list should include the following:

  • Medication names
  • Doses
  • How you take them and how often you take them
  • If they were recently changed

It would be helpful to bring the following. But do not delay going to the hospital if you need immediate care, even if you don’t have them:

  • Identification and insurance card
  • An accurate medical history
  • Allergy list
  • List of your medical problems
  • Your physician’s name and phone number
  • Any personal items you think you may need
  • Do not bring your valuables. Leave money and jewelry at home
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