Patient Experience & Care | MedStar Harbor Hospital | MedStar Health

What to expect

We are guided by the principle of providing high-quality health care for our patients and the communities we serve. When you come to our hospital, we are focused on your safety, comfort, and recovery. We strive to deliver our services in a comfortable, healing environment to make your experience as pleasant and positive as possible.

What to do before surgery

Pre-admission testing

Your primary care physician may conduct your pre-admission tests unless your surgeon has requested that they be performed at MedStar Harbor.

Pre-admission testing at MedStar Harbor
Please make an appointment at the Ambulatory Testing Center by calling 410-350-3872. We try to complete all testing within 1 hour.

Pre-admission testing elsewhere
Please have all test results faxed to MedStar Harbor no later than 3 days prior to your surgery.

To cancel, reschedule, or ask questions
Please contact the Ambulatory Testing Center weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. by calling 410-350-3872.


When you pre-register for your surgery, you can provide insurance and other information from the comfort of your own home rather than on the day of your procedure.

Pre-register now

Your pre-surgery checklist

  • Unless otherwise directed by your surgeon, stop aspirin and aspirin-containing medications seven days before the date of your procedure. If you are taking Coumadin® (warfarin) or other blood thinners, your surgeon will give you specific instructions for stopping this medication.

  • For children and infants, no solid food or formula for six hours prior to surgery. However, they may have small amounts of clear liquids up to three hours before surgery.

  • Unless otherwise instructed, you may have clear liquids, tea, black coffee, apple juice, and gelatin up to four hours before your surgery. Milk and other juices are not permitted. No alcohol for 24 hours before your surgery.

  • Make arrangements for a family member or friend to take you home after your surgery.

  • If you do not have health insurance, please contact Financial Counseling at 410-350-3808 for assistance.

Day of surgery

Before you arrive

Please follow all of these instructions so your surgery may be performed as scheduled.

  • If you are instructed to do so, bring all current medications with you

  • Bring your insurance card(s), identification, and receipts for any pre-payments

  • Do not wear cosmetics, body creams, or lotions

  • Do not bring large amounts of cash or valuables with you. Also remove all jewelry, including any body piercings

  • Unless they are patients, do not bring children with you

When you arrive

When you arrive at the hospital, please report to one of the following:

  • The Ambulatory Testing Center (if blood tests are requested)

  • Same Day Surgery (if blood tests have not been requested) Same Day Surgery is located on the second floor of the hospital, room North Main 208. Take the elevator to the second floor, turn right and follow the hallway to the right. The waiting area is located on the right side of the hall.

View a map

Post-surgical services

For patients who need to be admitted, MedStar Harbor offers many post-surgical services including:

  • Acute pain management
  • Surgical intensive care unit
  • 24-hour in-house surgical coverage

About your room

General information

Patient rooms (except for those in the Intensive Care Unit) are either semiprivate or private. The number of private rooms is limited, but we make every effort to honor your request depending on availability.

Wireless Internet, television, and local telephone service are offered free of charge.


  • Cellular phones (use not permitted in certain areas of the hospital)

  • Extension cords

  • Heating devices, including electric heating pads or blankets

  • Household appliances such as coffee pots and coffee makers


  • Small battery-powered devices, such as clocks, radios, and CD or DVD players. Thank you for using earphones.

  • Most electric shavers, hair dryers, and curling irons.

    • All such devices must have a "UL" label, cannot have frayed cords, and must remain unplugged when not in use.

Meals and nutrition

Wholesome, nourishing, and well-balanced meals are essential to your treatment and recovery. MedStar Harbor Hospital makes every effort to provide nutritious meals prepared according to your providers' orders.


Prior to your procedure, your anesthesia provider will review the results of your ambulatory tests with you and conduct a personalized anesthesia assessment with a review of your anesthesia options.

On the day of surgery, you will have an intravenous (IV) tube placed in your arm to receive necessary medications. In the operating room, an anesthesiologist will deliver pain medication and administer anesthesia to keep you comfortable during the surgery.

Once the anesthesia takes effect, a surgical nurse will wash the area to be operated on with a special sterilizing solution. A urinary catheter may be inserted and compression stockings may be placed on both legs to decrease the risk of blood clots.

An anesthesia provider will be present for the entire length of your procedure to ensure your comfort and safety. Once your surgery is complete, you will be taken to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit to recover.

Pain management

Postoperative pain is treated aggressively in several ways to ensure that your discomfort will be minimal:

  • Epidural pain control is the most effective method of controlling most forms of post-surgical pain. A catheter will be placed in your lower back through which constant small amounts of pain medication will be administered into your body.

  • Intravenous Patient-Controlled Analgesia (IV PCA) is used when the surgery or a medical condition prohibits the use of epidural pain control.

  • Traditional pain injections may be administered if your anesthesiologist determines that is the most appropriate way to manage your pain.

Addressing concerns

Patient representative

You can turn to our patient representative with questions, special needs or concerns, or complaints you may have during your stay. To reach the patient representative, please call 410-350-3487.

Every effort will be made to acknowledge your issue within 48 hours. Our response will be no later than seven days after your contacting us. If our investigation takes longer than that, we will contact you with a tentative date of when you can expect our findings.

Further actions

If your concern or complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, MedStar Harbor has designated an internal group to hear the complaint, direct any further investigation, and render a decision to you within 48 hours.

You have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at 410-402-8015 if you have an issue about abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of your property while a patient at MedStar Harbor. You do not have to file a complaint with the hospital prior to filing a complaint. If you have an issue that remains unresolved, you also can contact The Joint Commission at 1-800-994-6610.