Tips for Visiting a Patient in the Hospital

Many people want to visit the hospital when a friend or family member requires inpatient care, but some find that it is difficult to know what to do or say. Visitors may worry about getting in the way, upsetting the patient, or even creating an awkward social situation.

It is true that a visit may be ill-timed if there are problems in the relationship, or if seeing a particular visitor may cause the patient stress. If the relationship is a good one, and if the visitor is able to show love and good cheer, the patient may pick up on these feelings and begin to reciprocate.

This effect works best when the patient wants a visit, so any potential well-wishers should check first. Ideally, a visitor will talk with the patient or a family member about the best time to arrive and then call just before leaving to confirm. Once there, the visitor should remain aware of the patient’s energy level and stay no more than 20 minutes, or leave when the patient appears to be getting tired.

All visitors should wash or sanitize their hands and should avoid wearing perfume or scents, as these can irritate some people. A gift is a nice idea, but it should be something that is entertaining or useful, such as crossword puzzles or warm socks. Flowers are cheery at first but do not stay that way.

Finally, visitors must remember that they are there to provide companionship. Companionable silence can be very comforting, particularly if it communicates to the patient that he or she does not need to entertain the visitor. Visitors can offer light conversation and share relevant news, but listening is often the most important thing that the visitor can do.

About the Author:

Abhishek Kapila MD

Dr. Abhishek Kapila has served as a hospitalist at several Kentucky medical centers. Now a hospitalist with EmCare in Frankfort, Dr. Abhishek Kapila oversees the treatment of patients admitted to the hospital.


Endotracheal Intubation – Indication and Procedure

Abhishek Kapila
Doctor Abhishek Kapila

As a hospitalist with EmCare in Frankfort, Kentucky, Dr. Abhishek Kapila draws on a strong working knowledge of care coordination and clinical procedures. Dr. Abhishek Kapila has performed a number of intubations since beginning his medical career.

Responsible for transporting air into the lungs, the trachea runs from the larynx to the bronchi. It is approximately 1 inch wide and 4 inches long and consists of muscle, connective tissue, and cartilage. A healthy trachea is able to expand to let air in and collapse as the breath exits the body, but it can become blocked or otherwise incapacitated, due to injury or disease.

If the trachea is not working properly and a medical team needs to artificially promote breathing, a physician may perform an endotracheal intubation. This most often takes place when the patient is under anesthesia, though in emergency situations the patient may be unconscious as a result of his or her injuries.

The procedure begins with the physician inserting a laryngoscope into the patient’s mouth. This instrument helps the doctor to visualize the upper trachea, while also holding the tongue out of the way. The physician may also apply pressure to the thyroid, so that the path for the tracheal tube becomes easier to view.

The doctor then inserts a flexible plastic tube and passes it through the vocal cords of the larynx. This tube can connect to either a breathing machine or to a bag, which can help doctors to determine the correct placement of the tube. Intubation remains in place only until the patient can breathe for him- or herself, at which point a member of the care team will remove the tube.