What is hospital etiquette?

Hospital etiquette is a form of behavior that affects both patients and visitors. It requires some common sense, but also some research to get it right. Hospital etiquette didn't have a proper name until a few years ago, though the standards of what's acceptable in a hospital setting haven't changed much in the last half century.

The first rule of hospital etiquette is to be considerate of anyone who shares a patient's room. This means keeping noise down, not bringing an excessive amount of flowers, and avoiding perfumes or foods with strong scents that can cause discomfort or allergies. If you are visiting with children, make sure they behave; don't let them walk around the room, touching everything. If you can't control them, it may be best to leave them at home. The same goes if you're sick or just not feeling your best. A patient recovering from surgery should avoid contact with people who have the flu or other contagious illnesses that can delay recovery.

Hospital etiquette also requires that you understand some simple rules about waiting rooms. First, the rooms are to be shared. This means that you need to keep it in the best possible condition so that others can use it too. Don't create litter, and if you do, find a place to dump it or take it with you. Don't carry a million small items with you and don't clutter the tables or sofas.

Some hospitals don't allow cell phones, but even if they do, it's good hospital etiquette to turn them off or at least put them on vibrate. The hospital is also not the right place to talk loudly or start an argument. If you have something to say that cannot be said quietly, leave the building. Finally, it is good hospital etiquette to be respectful of staff. Nurses are often overworked and if they don't get back to you right away, it may be because they were late with a different request. Ask again if necessary, but be polite.

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