Guide for New and Returning Patients

  • Ask your doctor what will happen during your hospital visit. Ask for a simpler explanation for anything you don't understand.
  • Select an "advocate" to help you during your hospital stay. You need a trusted family member or friend to assist you, in your room, during stressful moments, remembering things you can't and making sure your wishes are respected.

Prepare a Medical Information File

Be prepared to share your medical history with the doctors and nurses who will be caring for you. An at-home medical file is a convenient way to gather the documents that you may need if hospitalized:

  • Medical directive documents, including a living will and durable power of attorney for health care decision making (see below).
  • A list of your current medications, including any over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, herbal medicines and alternative products including the dose, frequency and reason for taking each.
  • A list of all your allergies, including food, environmental and medication allergies.
  • If you have a problem with falling or other safety issues, note that too.
  • A list of your physicians and their phone numbers.
  • A list of all pharmacies and phone numbers.

Your Legal Medical Directives

You should prepare an advanced medical directive, either a signed and notarized living will or a durable power of attorney for health care. You may also set up an advance care plan or appoint your own health care agent using the forms below.

  • In case something happens and you can’t make decisions for yourself, these legal documents let your doctors and family know what you have already decided about your care. 
  • Tell your doctors and family about this now so there aren't any surprises.
  • If you need to set up a living will or power of attorney while you are already in the hospital, notify Patient Registration.
  • If you do not bring a copy with you, have someone bring it to the hospital to be placed in your medical chart as soon as possible.

Medical Directive Legal Forms

If you don't already have the documents listed above, you can print, fill out and sign an advance directive, with or without an attorney. Two (2) witnesses must sign in your presence or you must have the document notarized.

Tennessee Residents

Advance Care Plan

Health Care Agent

Mississippi Residents

Patient Self-Determination Act

Arkansas Residents

Sample Language for a Declaration in the Event of Becoming Permanently Unconscious

Sample Language for a Declaration in the Event of a Terminal Condition

You must complete both forms.

Medications You Receive at the Hospital

While you're in the hospital, your physician may prescribe more than one medication for you. Ask these questions about them and write down the answers:

  • What are the names of the medications I'm taking?
  • Why am I taking this medication?
  • What times will I be receiving the medication?
  • Can I see what my medications look like?
  • May I have a summary list of my discharge medications?

Pre-admission and Insurance

Please let Baptist know ahead of time that you are coming. Most insurance companies require prior approval or certification.

  • Notify your insurance company as soon as you think you will have to go to the hospital. 
  • Many insurance companies require you to notify them no later than 48 hours after an emergency admission to the hospital.
  • Your insurance company may or may not be responsible for paying for your services. It depends on your policy.
  • You and your physician are responsible for making sure you have met all the conditions of your policy.

Your personal information: Keep in mind that you are being admitted to the hospital because your physician, who is a member of the medical staff, has requested it. Therefore, we will need to get some personal information from you, including financial and medical records required by law. These records are confidential and will not be released to persons not involved in your care or payment for your care without your written consent.

During Your Stay

Make sure you have a copy of the Patient Bill of Rights in your hospital room. If for any reason you feel you aren't receiving the best care possible, talk to the nurse in charge or the hospital's patient relations representative.

  • For your safety, you will receive an identification wristband to wear until you are discharged from the hospital.
  • Any medications you bring into the hospital must be left with the nurse.
  • Please do not keep valuables or money with you. The hospital cannot be responsible for them.
  • Electronic appliances, such as hair dryers, clocks, electric razors and curling irons, must be checked and approved by someone from nursing services before being used in your room.
  • Do not bring pillows or blankets from home. If you need extra linens, please contact someone at the nurses' station. 

Countdown to Check-out

Procedures for your check-out or discharge from the hospital involve your doctors and staff working together. Please be patient during this process. We understand your eagerness to return home!

  • Your doctor will advise you that you are ready to be discharged from the hospital and will write orders directing the hospital staff to begin the discharge process.
  • Your nurse will act on any orders your doctor has ordered prior to discharge. This could involve final tests or lab procedures that need to be completed prior to your leaving. This process can take several hours.
  • At this point, you may not be completely recovered and may need extra attention and care at home. Please tell your nurse you would like to speak with a case manager and/or social worker if you need help in planning for special equipment.
  • Contact family members to arrange a ride home, unless you will be traveling by ambulance (hospital staff will handle that). Be sure to let the hospital staff know if you prefer a particular ambulance service.
  • Once you have been officially cleared for discharge, your nurse will remove your IV and other medical devices, discuss with you any physician instructions, such as follow-up visits and how to take medications.
  • Finally, you will be assisted to the door by a member of the hospital staff.

Managing Your Pain

Based on your comfort level, your health care providers will develop a pain management plan for you while you're in the hospital.  Be sure to share with your doctor what has worked to relieve your pain in the past and to provide honest answers to questions about the pain you're experiencing.

  • Don't hesitate or be afraid to tell the hospital staff if you're in pain.
  • Don't wait to report pain. Pain is much easier to control when it first begins than when it has become intolerable.
  • Actively help your health care professionals assess your pain. Answer their questions as completely and honestly as you can.