Hospital waiting rooms are the gathering places for friends and families of patients in the hospital. Some of the patients may be doing well while other may not; because of this there are very different energy levels of those waiting to see their loved ones.
In the waiting room, it is important to be aware of others around the room. If a waiting area is crowded, it may be best to ask the nurses if there is another location that can be used. Also be aware that if the people in the room are already quiet, it would be best to try to keep the noise level down in respect of the others in the room. It usually advisable to not let the noise level rise too much anyway as there are people that are recovering from illnesses or surgery and they may be trying to rest.
Remember that at one time everyone in the waiting room has probably been afraid. With this in mind, try to give other space and privacy, as much as is possible.
Some hospital waiting rooms allow coffee or other foods, and some have a no eating policy. There are reasons why a certain room may not allow food. The patients on the floor may not be able to eat certain foods and the aroma of this food would make them crave it. Make sure before bringing food into a waiting room that food is allowed. If not, there are usually cafeterias or food courts that can be visited.
There are some visitors in a waiting room that may need some privacy. This is a rare commodity in hospital waiting rooms, so if a family like this presents themselves try to give them some space. Some hospitals do have special rooms for times like this but others do not. If you do overhear a medical update or new that the family may be sharing, remember that confidentiality is important and try to keep the information to yourself.
Cell phones can become another issue in a waiting room. Upon entering the room, remember to place the phone on vibrate. It is also hard to have a private phone conversation in most waiting rooms, and most hospitals do not allow cell phones to be used in hallways. The best option is to text someone while in the waiting room. This helps to keep your information private and it doesn’t infringe on others.
The furniture in a waiting room is usually set up so that families can sit together as a unit. It may be all right to combine two sets of furniture if there is a larger group, but if there is need for more chairs, other accommodations should be looked into. Along with this, there are times when loved ones need to spend the night in the waiting room. If this is the case, move a couple of chairs together, and ask the nurse if it is possible to have a pillow and blanket. Some hospitals provide these willingly for waiting families.
The most important point in waiting rooms is respect for others and what they may be going through. With this in mind, the rules for etiquette fall into place.