Things for the Hospital

Our members have compiled a list to help you organize before your surgical hospital stay.

General Notes

Please remember that your stay on a regular hospital floor may be quite short. Frequently, patients are discharged within a day of getting a room. It’s a good idea not to bring so many items that it becomes overwhelming to keep track of them.

Discharge can be a very chaotic time, and it’s easy to leave something behind. Therefore, it’s better not to bring irreplaceable things even if they have no monetary value, e.g., a photo or jewelry you can’t replace. Although hospitals have a lost-and-found department, your schedule may not permit you to get back to retrieve the lost item.

If you have a partially used item that the hospital has provided, feel free to take the remainder home with you because you have paid for the entire package or item.

This list is appropriate for patients who have an extended stay in the hospital and those who are transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. We’d encourage you to pare it down for if you are anticipating just a few days of inpatient time.

Must Haves

  • Comfortable Clothing: Sweats (Elastic waistbands are useful because sometimes fingers aren’t so nimble for tying) and a Front-zip sweatshirt (even if you can only get one arm in because of the IV, it is very comfortable, and you don’t feel so “naked” in that gown)
  • Tennis shoes or slippers (for cruising the halls)
  • Hygiene items – Toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, lip balm (aka Chapstick), and swabs
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones!  This point is a biggie, especially after the medicines wear off.
  • Sleep Mask
  • Glasses (if you wear them)
  • Cell Phone (and long charging cord) for texting, calls, and photos
  • Medications—this must be cleared through the doctor/nurse and may not be allowed at your hospital, but if they are, it can save money on insurance billing.

For Women:

  • Make-up if you use it (photo-ops can come at odd times)
  • Scarves so you don’t have to worry about your hair.
  • Cotton undies
  • Personal Hygiene items for menstrual cycle

For Men:

  • Shaving Cream and Razor (electric might be best because you may not have enough coordination to use a blade)
  • Boxers or Briefs

For Kids:

  • Firestick or Roku for watching favorite shows
  • Transitional objects like blankets or stuffed animals, but keep careful track of the items, particularly at discharge time. Most hospitals will allow a child to take a favorite item into the operating room.
  • Small toys to play with in bed. Children’s hospitals will have a Child Life department that can provide toys, but nothing beats familiar toys during this difficult time. Again, at discharge, be sure to look through the bedding for stray toys.
  • Bottles, bottle brush, dishwashing detergent for children who are using a bottle – you may need to provide formula if you use something other than the standard Enfamil or Similac.
  • Diapers and wipes – hospitals use the cheapest brands.

To Help Make Your Stay Seem a Little More Like Home
(For Family and Friends, Too)

  • Family photos
  • Your pillow with soft pillowcase
  • A blanket or comforter (twin or twin XL)
  • Nice smelling lotion
  • Cooler with refreshments, so guests aren’t always running to get drinks and snacks
  • Laptop, tablet, and/or e-reader with earbuds and chargers
  • Magazines, books (anything to keep you busy)
  • Paper Towels
  • Plastic silverware
  • Drinking straws

Miscellaneous Items

  • Extra bags to bring all the cards/stuffed animals home
  • Clothes hangers
  • Linen bag for dirty laundry
  • Aspirin / Ibuprofen for visitors
  • Neck pillow and sunglasses for traveling home
  • Hat for the ride home, especially if it’s cold out


Updated 2020.5.15