Visitors play an important role in the recovery of hospitalized people. each year one out of every seven Americans needs hospital care.

If one of your family members or friends is hospitalized, would you know how to be a good hospital visitor?

Hospital visits aren’t always easy, especially if you’re not sure what to do or say. Before you head off to see someone read through the following suggestions to ensure that you’re are all set for a smooth visit.

1. Call First: To make sure visitors is allowed. Even if there are visiting hours provided the patient you are wanting to see may not be well enough to see anyone.

2. Observe the Hospital’s Visiting Hours: This is absolutely vital; non-visiting hours ensuring sufficient recuperation for the patients, so that they get well quickly.

3. If the Patient’s Door is Closed, Knock and Wait for Permission to Enter: You can’t be sure whether or not a medical procedure is taking place or if the patient is sleeping.

4. Keep Your Visit Brief: The patient is likely to tire easily but may be too polite to ask you to leave. Also remember that you’re not likely to be the only visitor and having many visitors can be tiring.

5. Don’t Ask About Any Surgical or Test Results. If the patient wants you to know, he or she will tell you. Otherwise, this can seem too personal and very invasive of the patient’s privacy.

6. Bring a Gift Card: Instead of flowers or candy, consider purchasing a gift card to the patient’s favorite store. A post-surgery patient usually can’t eat for several days, so candy isn’t a very tactful gift. Hospital rooms are small, there may not be room for flowers are they are usually a nuisance when the patient is ready to go home.

7. Stay Positive: If visiting a co-worker, refrain from mentioning the latest round of budget cuts or layoffs. If there is any bad news from the home or work front, try your best to not relay it unless you think that it is absolutely essential. It is best for the patient to be relieved of bad news until they’re well enough to cope again.

8. Assure the Patient that He or She is Missed at Work, School, Church, or Social Groups: Days are very long at the hospital, and a patient can quickly feel isolated and out of touch.

9. Don’t be Hurt if You Are Asked Not to Visit: Most patients value their privacy and may not want to be seen hooked up to machines and drainage tubes. Moreover, if they feel really ill, they’re genuinely not up to receiving visitors.


• Have patience. Hospital time is different from real time.

• Do not visit when you aren’t feeling well. The last thing a patient needs is to catch your illness.

• Follow hospital security measures that are in place to protect patients and hospital staff.

• Remember, visitors can be good medicine for patients, and both family members and friends are encouraged to visit. However, the patient’s well-being must remain the primary focus. To ensure quality care for all patients, follow the hospital guidelines and share them with family members and friends.

Sheila Birnbaum’s professional career has been devoted to enhancing patient care. As the Director of the Patient Advocacy Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), Hamilton, NJ, she instituted numerous programs, many which received statewide recognition, including several prestigious rewards.