Pastor Walter Wiens has taken the time to write a comprehensive guide to hospital visitation etiquette with eleven different points to guide you in visiting family and friends who are hospitalized.
The Golden Rules in Hospital Visitation
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Medical Information and Terminology
It is helpful to know some basic medical terminology. Sharing about the medical condition in an informed and sensitive manner builds a relationship between the visitor, the patient and the care givers such as family members. Use lay terms instead of technical terms.
Conversations are between two people in the moment. We always need to maintain elements of confidentiality and trust. What I share with you may not be what I want to share with another person and certainly do not want you to share with another person.
Length of Visit
Be brief. The longest hospital call should be no more than fifteen minutes, usually much less. Observe and be sensitive to the patient’s condition.
The family members need our love and care as well as the patient in the hospital. Render assistance to the patient’s family as appropriate.
Leave helpful literature, something easily read in bed. Most church offices should have comforting scriptural cards and books with poems and Bible verses.
If we can, offer to do a needed errand. Render any helpful service you can give the patient or the family.
Washing and Cleanliness
It is always necessary to wash our hands both before entering a hospital room and between visiting various rooms. Always check at the nurses’ station if visiting a patient with precautions. There are specific instructions for gowning up and removing gear.
Be positive, and avoid negativity! Bring poise and mental ease into the room. Be relaxed, but confident.
Listen, listen, listen – lectures can wait.
We are coming as caregivers who walk alongside people, holding them up in love. Be willing to remain with someone in their pain, do not feel the need to always seek a positive conclusion to your meeting.
Insofar as you can, direct the conversation. Point it towards important things and not mere trivialities. You initiated the visit, therefore, seek to lead in such a manner that God’s grace and love will be received.
When you enter a hospital room, quickly observe the patient. This will help decide on what side of the bed you should be. Try to be on the same level as the patient. Find a chair, request one from the nurses if there is not one readily available.
Think ahead of the various stages of your visit. Have in mind possible Bible verses to read. Ask which room and which bed the patient is in, so you can go directly to the right person.
If the door is shut, respect the sign of privacy. Knocking may wake a sleeping patient. If a curtain or door is closed always check with the nurses before entering.
We share the right to offer words of comfort only after we fully listen to another person’s pain. This means we suspend judgment and quick advice.
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