What to Pack for the Hospital for Surgery

Going to the hospital for an elective surgical procedure can cause significant anxiety. One of the best ways to help ease anxiety is to plan for your upcoming surgery. Whether you are having a hip replacement, knee replacement, or a spinal surgery, there are some things you can prepare to have available to make your hospital stay more comfortable.

A couple packing their bags for a trip
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The essentials are items that you may need. If you have questions, contact the hospital prior to the day of your surgery. If they have medications, records, or imaging studies, you may not need to bring duplicates of these, but if they don't have these available you may need to bring these yourself.

  • Medications - in original containers, if your hospital pharmacy cannot provide for you
  • Recent x-rays, MRIs, or other scan you have had done
  • Insurance documentation
  • Any crutches, braces, or other devices needed after surgery
  • Documents requiring your healthcare provider's signature
  • Any other preoperative documents (some hospitals keep on file, others have patients keep these)
  • Identification


Hospital clothing serves a purpose, but that purpose is not making you feel comfortable! After most elective surgical procedures, you can often wear more normal clothes within a day or two of surgery. Take a few items of clothing to the hospital to have available once you can get rid of the hospital gown.

  • Nightgown/Pajamas
  • Robe
  • Comfortable clothing (sweatpants, loose shirts)
  • Slippers
  • Shoes


Hospitals will stock basic supplies, but like most any organization that you don't call home, you will miss your usual toothpaste or your normal razor. Having a few of these personal comforts will make the other changes (the new room, the hospital sheets) a little less uncomfortable by giving you some of your normal comforts from home.

  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Razor
  • Soap/Shampoo
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Tissues


You're likely to be busy in the hospital. Between surgery, rehabilitation, and recovery, you may not have as much free time as you think. However, you also don't want to find yourself bored. Bring a few things to keep your mind occupied (a good book or some work to get done) just in case you have some down time.

  • Book
  • Pen/Paper

What Not to Bring

Anything that you would be upset you lost should be left at home. There are some items you may decide you can't live without, even for a few days. However, anything you can't easily replace should be left at home.

  • Jewelry
  • Valuables

Check Before You Bring

  • Cellular phones (some hospitals do not allow these to be used around hospital monitoring equipment)
  • Personal computer

Consider the value of these items and how secure they will be at the hospital. Hospitals are safe places, but they are busy environments where personal items can go missing.

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.