Gifts for Hospital Patients – 6 Things You Should Know Before You Gift

Doctor with patient and family

Your loved one is hospitalized or your best friend just had her baby and you want to send them a get well gift or a congratulations gift. Easy, right? Maybe not. There are a few things to consider when sending a gift to a hospital patient. Hospital gifting policies and an incorrectly addressed package are just a few reasons your thoughtful gift can become a gifting disaster. Avoid hospital patient gifting pitfalls with these helpful tips!

Know The Address

You may be surprised to hear how often gifts sent to hospitals do not reach the patient. Incorrectly addressed packages are usually the reason. Forgetting to include a room number, department, or including multiple recipient names can lead to delivery disasters!

To insure your gift will be delivered on-time, include the recipient’s room number or department on the package. For example, add “maternity ward” or “Intensive Care Unit” after the hospital name in the delivery address. Also, make sure the hospital’s address is written correctly. Some hospitals require a building name or other information listed in the address.

When in doubt, call the hospital to ask for their delivery policies or check the hospital’s website for delivery instructions. Always ask how your package should be addressed. It’s the best way to avoid delivery delays that could cause your gift to be returned.

Delivery Takes Longer Than You Think

UPS, FedEx and USPS drivers do not deliver to the patient’s room. Packages are left at the hospital’s reception desk or mail room. Hospital staff or volunteers are responsible for delivering gifts to patients. Don’t be surprised if your gift takes hours or more to reach the patient’s room after the gift is delivered to the hospital. The staff often delivers all patient gifts at the same time. It’s doubtful your gift will be the first one they deliver.

Make sure the recipient is not being released the day the gift arrives. When a package arrives the same day a patient is discharged the gift often fails to be delivered! Adding a signature confirmation at delivery will save you time and frustration if you need to troubleshoot delivery issues. Especially if your gift is perishable, temperature sensitive, time critical or of high value. According to our customer service team, the number one reason hospital gifts are not received is due to the gift arriving on the same day the patient is discharged!

Be Mindful of Dietary Restrictions

Fruit & Healthy Snacks Gift BasketPhysicians often prescribe special diets to their patients. For instance, a patient on a cholesterol-restricted diet would be limited on the amounts of meat, poultry, fried foods, egg yolks, whole milk products, and saturated fats they can eat. But they typically would be able to consume lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products. A fruit basket would be a healthy gift option for this patient. If you have questions about patient diet restrictions, the hospital’s nutrition services department is a great resource. Larger hospitals often include diet restrictions information on their websites.

Hospital Gift Restrictions

It’s well known that ICUs rarely allow flower or plant gifts but it is also common for cardiac care, pediatric, labor and delivery units to ban flower and plant deliveries too. With more hospitals following the Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommendations, it’s best to double check hospital gift policies prior to making a purchase. Other often banned gifts include latex and mylar balloons, stuffed animals, candles and even cell phones! Gifts that patients may be allergic to are also frequently banned. If the gift recipient is terminal or a hospice patient, check with hospital, hospice or family members about dietary or other restrictions before purchasing your gift.

Perishible Items May Spoil

Chocolate Lover's Cheesecake SamplerCheesecake gifts may be their favorite but are probably not the best gift to send a hospital patient. As mentioned, hospitals may not deliver your gift in a timely manner. It’s too risky to send a gift that could spoil. If you’d like to send a fruit basket, two-day or overnight shipping will reduce the possibility of the gift arriving spoiled. The same concern applies to fresh cheese or baked goods gifts. Overnight or two day shipping is always the best choice. Send chocolate covered gifts to the patient after they are home to avoid a melted gift disaster.

Customer Service Can Help

Get Well Oreo® CookiesWhen in doubt, call the gift company’s customer service team to place your order. They are experts in gift delivery and will know how to properly address your package. They can also recommend gifts that ship best. If you are worried the gift may not arrive on-time, ask about their return policy. Remember to have realistic delivery expectations in case the hospital does not deliver the gift prior to the recipient’s check-out. Customer service will inform you of the company return policy and will help you make the perfect gift selection.


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