Many of us have been visitors or possibly even a patient at a hospital, at one point in time. A hospital can be a confusing place to visit because of the unique terminology that is used to differentiate departments and sections of the hospital. It can be overwhelming to some people, or it can simply be new territory.
Whether you are visiting, or starting a new job, or assisting a family or friend, it is important to understand how to find your way around a hospital. For starters, understanding the difference between outpatient and inpatient care will help you decipher where to start. Inpatient is where a patient stays overnight and outpatient is a clinic or office setting where patients typically do not spend the night. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you find your way around any hospital.
- Always ask first, before proceeding. Try entering the main hospital entrance and look for a volunteer or employee that can ask for help. Look for landmarks or signs and clarify with hospital employees, if those are correct. Do not be afraid to ask all of your questions.
- Ask if there is a patient handbook. Some hospitals provide these, and they can be a useful guide to not only finding your way around, but seeing what services are available.
- Learn the language. Hospitals, similar to medical terminology, love to abbreviate and use unique wording. Some examples include: ENT stands for Ear Nose and Throat. ER stands for Emergency Department.
- Write down directions. Come prepared knowing you may need to take down notes.
- If you have a planned hospital visit, try accessing the hospital website prior to your visit to look for a map or additional resources.
Hope this information is useful at your next hospital visit!