Being admitted to hospital

If you are being admitted to hospital for an operation, it's important to be prepared.

There are also rules for what you can and cannot bring with you and advice on what to expect.

Read below for more information.

Before you go to hospital for your operation you should:

  • not eat or drink from the time advised by your doctor - you need an empty stomach during your operation, so you don't vomit while you are under anaesthetic (asleep)
  • shower and wash your hair the day of your operation, or the evening before
  • not wear jewellery or makeup on the day of your operation - you can wear your wedding ring
  • if you take regular medicines, bring all your medicines with you to the hospital - you can take them with a sip of water, unless your doctor has told you not to
  • always check with your doctor if you are taking blood thinning medicines or you are a diabetic, as there may be other things you need to do - your doctor will advise you
  • ask a family member or friend to pick you up from hospital as you must not drive for 24 hours
  • plan to have someone stay with you after your operation and stay within one hour of the hospital.

You must bring all of the following:

  • your Medicare card or health fund details if you have private health insurance
  • a letter of admission for your doctor
  • current medication
  • list of drugs you are allergic to
  • any relevant x-rays or ultrasounds, especially if you are a maternity patient.

Personal belongings

You will be given a locker and asked to lock away your belongings before the nurse takes you to the operating theatre. This locker will hold a small bag.

You should bring all of the following:

  • your nightwear, dressing gown, slippers and undergarments - you should mark these with your name
  • your own toiletries - brush or comb, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues and shaving gear
  • your glasses if you need them
  • some clothes to change into when you return home.

You may also want to bring any of the following

  • something to read
  • your own watch
  • address book or list of telephone numbers
  • a pen.

You are unable to wash your clothes at the hospital. The only exception to this is for patients on the children's ward 5B and the ISOP Ward 7B at the Royal Darwin Hospital.

Maternity patients

You must bring all of the following:

  • your hand-held antenatal records
  • front opening nightdresses
  • maternity bras
  • nursing pads and sanitary wear.

For discharge, you will need all of the following:

  • baby clothes
  • blanket
  • nappies and safety pins (if needed).

You must not bring any of the following:

Alcohol and other drugs

Patients and visitors must not bring:

  • alcohol
  • non-prescription drugs, including marijuana.

If you have prescription drugs with you, give them to your nurse to look after. They will be returned to you when you are discharged, but check with your doctor if you can keep taking them at home.

Mobile phones and two-way radios

You cannot use mobile phones or two-way radios in patient treatment areas as they can cause interference to medical equipment with serious consequences to patients.

Make sure your mobile phone is turned off in treatment areas.


Do not bring valuables or large amounts of cash.

If this is unavoidable, deposit them with the hospital security office before you arrive in the ward. You will be given a key and a receipt.

You can also give your cash and valuables to a relative to take home - special arrangements are made for unconscious patients.

The hospital does not accept responsibility for the loss or damage of valuables from the ward, or the damage to your clothing or items that are removed in an emergency.

Your doctor will have talked to you about when your operation will happen and how soon that should happen.

A theatre scheduler makes all the bookings for operations, but it is up to your doctor to decide how soon you need to have your operation. Your doctor will give your booking a category number.

Booking categories

Category one - the hospital will try to book your operation within the next 30 days.

Category two - the hospital will try to book your operation within 90 days.

Category three - the hospital will try to book your operation within one year.

Your doctor will tell you what category your booking is. If you have not received a letter or call from the hospital within that time, you should contact your theatre scheduler.

If you think you need your operation sooner

If you are worried because you think you are getting sicker or having more pain, then you should go see your local general practitioner (GP). If you are very worried then you should go to your local emergency department.

If you feel sick on the day of your operation

Call your local theatre scheduler and let them know if you have a cold or flu and can't come to hospital.

The nurse will let the theatre scheduler know and they will contact you with a new operation date.

If you don't want to have your operation

If you think you do not need to have your operation anymore you should speak to your local doctor or GP. They can give you advice.

If you decide you do not want the operation, you should call the theatre scheduler and tell them so they can book another person for their operation.

Your appointment at the pre-admission clinic will be close to your operation date.

A nurse will see you and:

  • talk to you about your operation
  • ask you some questions
  • do some simple tests like checking your blood pressure and weight
  • tell you what you need to do before your operation date.

You might also see an anaesthetist who is a specialist doctor in keeping people asleep and pain free during operations.

If you can't make your appointment, then call your local pre-admission clinic and make another appointment.

If you would like an interpreter to help you understand the doctor, call the pre-admission clinic and they will book you an interpreter. Find out more about NT interpreter services.

You must answer questions about your health honestly.

Your doctor will want to know about any allergies you may have to antibiotics, medications or food. Information and details about your health and condition will remain in confidence.

If you require any diagnostic procedures and tests, such as pathology, MRI, CT scanning, or x-rays, these will be scheduled for you.

Single rooms are for patients with specific needs, such as those who need isolation or who are terminally ill.

For this reason, private patients will not be allocated a single room.

You must get permission from nursing staff to use electrical appliances.

Small radios or televisions with a screen no bigger than 46cm are allowed if used with earplugs.

Citizen band (CB) radios and any other two-way equipment are not permitted.

You can't use adapters and extension cords. All electrical appliances will go through an electrical check so they must be in good working order with no frayed ends.

Below are the phone numbers for theatre schedulers and pre-admission clinics for hospitals in the NT.

HospitalPhone number

Gove District Hospital theatre schedulers and pre-admission clinic

08 8987 0231
Katherine Hospital theatre schedulers and pre-admission clinic08 8973 9323
Royal Darwin Hospital theatre schedulers08 8922 6703 or
08 8922 8389 
Royal Darwin Hospital pre-admission clinic08 8922 8243
Royal Darwin Hospital same day procedure unit08 8922 8288
Alice Springs Hospital theatre schedulers and pre-admission clinic08 8951 7686 or
08 8951 7760
Tennant Creek Hospital patient service enquiries08 8962 4649

Last updated: 25 February 2022

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