How to stay safe in a hospital during a pandemic
Going to the hospital can be a stressful experience, especially during a pandemic. You should check ahead to see if you still need to go to your hospital appointment, as it may have changed due to coronavirus. To stay safe in a hospital, you should check before your visit to see if there are any instructions you need to follow, wash your hands often, and keep to the social distancing rules.
What precautions do I need to take if I have to go to a hospital appointment?
There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from getting coronavirus when you go into the hospital by:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should wash your hands as soon as you get to the hospital, after you cough or sneeze, after you go to the toilet and after you leave the hospital
- Do not touch your face. Avoid touching your face and mouth. If you need to do so, make sure your hands are thoroughly cleaned before.
- Changing clothes and having a shower when you get home. You could carry bugs on your clothes or skin from your hospital visit.
- Using hand sanitiser gel. If you can’t get to a toilet to wash your hands, you can use hand sanitiser gels. You should rub them all over the surfaces of both hands until they dry, for about 20 seconds.
Following hospital instructions. You might receive a letter or get a call telling you what to do when you come for your appointment. You might also see signs around the hospital building telling you how to keep safe. It’s important to follow the hospital instructions during your appointment
Should I still go to my hospital appointments?
You should check before your appointment to make sure it’s still going ahead. If you don’t have a phone number for the hospital, you can find the hospital’s phone number online.
Your hospital might change your face-to-face appointment to a telephone or video appointment, or they might postpone or cancel your appointment.
If your appointment is still going ahead, you should go to your appointment. It’s important to get treatment still unless the hospital thinks that it’s not too urgent.
Should I visit my friends and family in the hospital?
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, most hospitals have stopped all visitors from coming in or have strict rules about who can visit. Before you visit, check whether the hospital is still allowing visits from family and friends and follow any new instructions.
You should consider if visiting family or friends is ‘essential travel’. If they do not live in the same house with you, you may also be at risk of getting or spreading coronavirus further.
If you’re still not sure, you can contact the hospital to find out more information about visiting family or friends.
I am visiting someone in the hospital. What should I do to keep them safe?
There are a few things you can do to keep your friends or family in hospital safe during your visit:
- Do not sit on the hospital bed. You can pick up bugs that are on hospital beds. You can also move bugs from your clothes or skin onto the hospital bed. There are chairs available for hospital visitors to sit on
- Do not put shoes on the bed. You can pick up bugs from the hospital bed or move germs from your shoes to the bed
- If you’re bringing gifts, make sure they’re clean. Plastic toys or laminated magazines that you can wipe down are easier to clean than soft fabrics or toys. Make sure you wash fruit or wipe down any packets of food that you bring
- Make sure you’re still social distancing. You still need to stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from people all the time in the hospital
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion
Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 24 Apr 2020