Abby: Hospital visitors should practice simple courtesy

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I’ve been a nurse for 35 years and I’ve noticed a decline in simple courtesy from people who visit friends or relatives in the hospital. Some things they should keep in mind:

1. If you don’t know what room the patient has been assigned, ASK. Don’t wander in and out of rooms until you find the right one.

2. Be prepared to give the first and last names of the patient when asking for directions.

3. Abide by the visiting hours and the number of persons allowed into a patient’s room at one time. Remember, patients need dedicated time for treatments and procedures.

4. Do not bring small kids to the hospital unless they are visiting their parent or sibling. You needlessly place them at risk by exposing them to infections.

5. Make sure any food you bring to the patient is allowed by the physician.

6. Never question the staff for information regarding the patient’s diagnosis or condition. It is against the law for a health care provider to divulge patient information to an unauthorized individual. Ask the patient.

7. Get permission before plugging in a cellphone charger.

8. When taking the elevator, use public elevators. And when the doors open, stand back and allow the occupants to safely step out before entering.

Patient-Centered Nurse

in California

Dear Nurse: If readers take to heart your suggestions in the spirit they were given, everyone will benefit. That visitors would charge into hospital elevators, wander the halls, barge into patients’ rooms, and drag small children into sickrooms is an indication that there has been not only a decline in courtesy, but also common sense.

Patients are in hospitals because they need intensive treatment and REST. Creating a party atmosphere in which the patient is expected to entertain numerous “guests” is physically and emotionally draining and a danger to the person’s health.

Dear Abby: My cousin and I have season tickets for the Broadway series at our local theater. Our problem is two women who sit next to us in the box. After intermission, when the second act starts, they talk loudly to each other as long as 10 minutes into the show. I want to say something, but I don’t want to cause any negativity or bad feelings because we will see them at each show. How should I deal with it?

Audience Member

Dear Member: Here’s how: When the women continue their conversation after the curtain rises, you say to the one nearest you, “Please be quiet. We can’t hear the performance.” That’s not rude; it’s being assertive. If they persist after that, complain to the management and ask that, if possible, in the future you be seated apart from the magpies.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.