Hopefully, most of you will not need this information about hospitalization/surgery in the near or far future, but having it available may be helpful to you at some point. Print a copy and keep it in place for future reference. Hospitalization and possible surgery can be overwhelming for anyone, but going in with diabetes can make it even more challenging.

An increase of complications can occur due to your blood sugars – high or low – with a greater rate of infections. Being prepared and knowable can help alleviate the anxiety to some extent.

  1. Tell all your doctors about ALL medications, vitamins, and supplements that you are currently taking. Do not skip any, even baby aspirin and OTC medications. Interactions can be a big threat.
  2. Make sure everyone who walks into your room has washed their hands. Include your family and friends. Do not feel intimidated if you are unsure and need to ask. Infection rates can be high with resistant strains of bacteria.
  3. Check out the hospital online to see if they perform a large volume of the procedures that you are having and what their complication/infection rates are. This information can usually be found free online. The same applies for the surgeon doing the procedure – have they performed many of these procedures? Research by word of mouth as well. Is a second opinion needed before this procedure is done?
  4. Meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the procedure to talk about agents they will be using. It is routine for them but not for you. Talk about any side effects or problems you had during previous surgery – nausea, vomiting or pain. Feel free to ask questions.
  5. Make a list of questions so you do not need to remember them. During stressful times, we tend to forget. Have a support person with you.
  6. Speak up when you are given medication if you have any doubts or questions. Think about the drug, the dosage and the route. No question is silly. Did you have it before or is it new? Call if your IV is beeping and no one is checking on the drip rate. Do not be afraid to ring the call bell.
  7. Insist that everyone check your wrist band; ask your birth date, prior to going for a test or therapy, before you are given medications, blood or IVs.
  8. Check to make sure a surgery site is marked before the procedure and be clear about what is happening. Read all the pre-op papers carefully. You never want surprises when you wake up.
  9. Some people have allergies to IVP dye used for tests and certain medications like penicillin or sulfa. All this should be on your chart but you can always remind them. Metformin, an oral diabetes medication, should be stopped a few days before and after your test, if IVP dye is used, to protect your kidney function. It never hurts to remind the staff of any of these things.
  10. Bring your own meter and supplies. You may test more frequently or be on a different schedule than they are and it may make you less stressed (stress will increase your blood sugars). Have glucose tablets by your bed side for low blood sugar so you do not have to depend on someone bringing you juice.
  11. Try to have a family member or friend with you as an advocate, in case you are tired or upset. This will be comforting to you and the staff.
  12. Discharge planning is crucial. Know what is expected of you at home before you leave the hospital. Have your medications and prescriptions ready when you go home as well and all follow up treatments and appointments written down.

Being sick and in the hospital is never fun, but being prepared will make you feel more in charge of your own recovery. Hospitals have multiple safety guidelines in place, but being aware is your best defense.

NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.