10 Hospital Etiquette Tips Although the hospital may not be your favorite place to visit, use these tips to be more considerate to those around you and the patient. BY DIANE GOTTSMAN
You don't need a medical degree to know how to act when inside a hospital.
Whether itís you or your spouse, one anotherís parents, a family member or your own child, sooner or later you will have to make a trip to the hospital. And even thoughówhen that day comesóyou will be focused on whatís going on with your loved one, there are still some courtesies that everyone would appreciate you take into consideration. The following are some tips for those of you that are planning to visit your spouse, a friend or family member in the hospital.
1. Observe the "No Visitors" sign. For many different reasons a patient may not want visitors at his or her hospital bedside. Itís not considerate to sneak past the nurseís station and pay an unwanted visit to an ailing friend or family member against their wishes.
2. Flowers are not universally appreciated. While flowers are the most popular choice, it would be nice to know in advance if the person receiving the bouquet is allergic to blooms. Some good alternatives include magazines, a warm shawl or sweater, furry socks or a nice box of stationary and pen.
3. Donít overstay your welcome. If the person in the hospital bed keeps falling asleep in the middle of your stories, you have stayed too long. Kindly show yourself out and let them get the rest they need.
4. Leave the diagnosis to the doctor. Donít ask the patient (your friend or family member) for a detailed description of the illness and then start to give your own opinion of what the doctor should be doing differently. Remember, the doctor has a medical degree and your friend or family member studied a completely different occupation.
5. Just because the patientsí eyes are closed doesnít mean he canít hear you. Saying things like, "He looks terrible!" or "Wait for the next operation, it gets worse!" are not appropriate sentiments to be expressing around an ailing patient.
6. No horror stories. A friend of mineócurrently going through chemotherapyótold me that her best friend, when hearing of her diagnosis, unthinkingly remarked, "She might just drop dead on her first round of chemo." Not comforting!
7. Donít wear perfume. A strong scent can be nauseating and extremely uncomfortable to the patientís sense of smell. Instead, refrain from using perfume before you enter the hospital and apply it instead when you leave.
8. Conduct your business at the office. Make your personal and business calls after your hospital visit. Or really, if youíre that busy, stay at the office and visit later.
9. Donít ask, "Are those the flowers that I sent?" Who knows exactly, they all start looking alike after a while and itís not about you. Instead, comfort them by acknowledging how beautiful the room looks.
10. Donít comment on how bad hospital food is. Your friend or family member is well aware of how bad the food tastes. Instead, bring up something you have in common, like a favorite TV show or sports team and give them some details about whatís going on.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.