Disordered Eating: What to Expect in the Hospital
You are here because of medical problems that come from not eating well. We care about your
health and well-being. There are many things we do to keep you safe and help you get healthy.
Vital Signs, Heart Monitoring, and Lab Tests
ξ We check your vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and breathing rate)
many times a day at first, as often as every few hours.
ξ Each morning, we check your blood pressure while you are lying in bed and when you
stand up. Your blood pressure numbers may drop when you stand up.
ξ If you are dehydrated when you arrive and your blood pressure numbers change, you may
need to get fluids with an IV.
ξ You’ll have a heart monitor until your health is stable. This tells the nurse if there is a
problem with your heart rate or rhythm. At first, you wear the monitor all of the time. At
some point, your doctor may decide you do not have to wear it all of the time.
ξ You will need blood and urine tests to check your body’s chemistry.
ξ You will need an EKG (electrocardiogram) to take a look at your heart rhythm.
Your Healthcare Team
ξ We have a large team to help you get healthy again including: pediatric hospitalist
doctors, residents, teen medicine specialists, psychiatrists, nurses and patient safety aide.
ξ You also have a team of nutritionists and dieticians to help plan and follow your eating
habits, since food is the medicine you need to get healthy.
ξ You may see other team members like health psychologists, physical or occupational
therapists, social workers, case managers, chaplains, or other specialists.
Safety and Activity
ξ In the beginning you will have a patient safety aide in your room 24 hours a day, also
while you are in the shower and bathroom. The aide may be in your room or you may be
monitored by a technician at the nurses’ station. Your nurse will explain what we will do
to keep you safe. We do our best to give you privacy. You may earn the privilege of
having a safety aide only during and shortly after meal times. Your healthcare team will
decide when and if this happens.
ξ You will be on bed rest and fall precautions. You are given a yellow wristband and a
yellow leaf is put outside your door to tell us that you have special rules to prevent falls.
This is to keep you safe. You need to sit or lay in bed at all times. You may not exercise
or walk around your room. You may be allowed to walk to the bathroom.
ξ Your medical team may let you to go to hospital activities when your health is stable
enough. You must go in a wheelchair and someone must go with you.
During your stay, we give you a healthy diet with the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
The dieticians are in charge of planning your meals. They will ask you what you do like and
what you don’t like. Your nurses will not talk about food or teach about nutrition while you are
ξ You will have 3 meals and up to 3 snacks a day. Your meals and snacks come to your
room at planned times, within a 30 minute window.
ξ You need to eat your meals within 30 minutes and snacks within 20 minutes. If you
cannot finish your meal, you will be given a liquid supplement. This is not a punishment.
No one will be upset with you if you take the supplement instead of finishing the meal.
ξ If you do not eat your meal or drink your supplement, you will have to have a nasogastric
(NG) tube. This tube goes in through your nose and down to your stomach. Your
supplement is given in the NG tube.
ξ We cannot serve vegan diets. We also do not allow “diet” food or drinks, or caffeine.
ξ Outside food, including food brought by family or friends is not allowed. You cannot
give your food to others.
ξ Your safety aide will watch your bathroom use. You may not use the bathroom for 1
hour after you eat a meal or snack unless your aide is watching.
ξ Please do not flush the toilet. There will be a ‘hat” in the toilet that your nurse will show
you to urinate in. We keep track of your output.
ξ You are able to take a 5-minute shower when your team decides it is medically safe.
ξ If you are being monitored by a technician, you will need to put on your call light and
wait for staff to help you to the bathroom.
ξ You are weighed every morning after you urinate and before you shower. Your hair must
be dry. We ask that you wear your underwear and gown (no bra) for your weights.
ξ We do not talk about your weight, and you are asked to face away from the scale.
Why so many rules?!?!
These rules are not made to punish you. They have been shown to help keep this hospital stay
safe and as short as possible. While the rules are strict, they help to improve your nutrition in a
safe way and help your body work normally again. We also do our best to tell you what will
happen during your stay, however new things may come up. We will tell you about changes to
your plan. Please feel free to ask questions.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospital
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7574