Why do I have to go to the hospital to receive this medication?

Your first doses of antiarrhythmic drugs are given to you in the hospital so we can keep a close eye on your condition and response to the medicine. This helps your healthcare team know how much medication you need to take on a regular basis.

How long will I be in the hospital?

You will stay in the hospital about 3 to 4 days or until you have received a total of 6 doses of medication. If your medication needs to be adjusted after you receive your sixth dose, you may need to stay in the hospital an extra day for your safety.

Preparing for your hospital admission

  • Your doctor will let you know which medication you will receive.
  • If you take warfarin (Coumadin), you will need to get weekly International Normalized Ratio (INR) tests from the healthcare provider who manages
    your INR. Your INR helps your healthcare provider know how fast your blood is clotting and if you need to make changes to your medication.
  • Once your INR levels are higher than 2.0 for 21 days AND these results are received by Cleveland Clinic, please contact your physician’s office to schedule your hospital admission.
  • If you take an anticoagulant other than warfarin, you must take the medication for at least 21 days without missing a dose before you are admitted to begin antiarrhythmic medication.
  • Cleveland Clinic will work with your insurance company to preauthorize your hospital stay.
  • Contact your pharmacy BEFORE you are admitted to the hospital to make sure your antiarrhythmic medication will be available after you leave the hospital. Some medications are not available through certain mail-order companies. If you have trouble finding a pharmacy that carries your medication, please contact a Cleveland Clinic pharmacy at 216.445.MEDS (6337). The pharmacies can fill prescriptions for 90-day supplies of medication and can mail the medication to your home upon request.

What should I bring to the hospital?

You can bring limited toiletries, a robe, slippers and anything else you feel would make your hospital stay more comfortable. Please keep in mind that closet space is limited. You can also bring reading materials, small puzzles, your cell phone, lap top computer, and other items to help you occupy your time. Please leave jewelry, credit cards, large amounts of cash and other valuables at home.

Where should I go when I arrive?

Please come to Desk J1-4 between 10 a.m. and noon. You will have lab work and an electrocardiogram (EKG).

After these tests are completed, you will be directed to Admitting & Registration at Desk J1-1, where you will complete some paperwork.

What happens when I arrive?

Once you finish your registration at Desk J1-1, you will be assigned to a hospital bed. A nurse will help you get ready. We will check your vital signs and start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Then, the nursing staff will contact your healthcare provider.

When will I receive the medication?

You will receive the first dose of medication the first evening you are in the hospital. The medication is in pill form, and you will take a dose every 12 hours.

What can I expect during my hospital stay?

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG). You will have an EKG about 2 hours after you receive each dose of medication. Your healthcare team will review the information about your heartbeat and determine if you need another dose of medication.

Blood tests. You will have your blood tested every day to see if you need any changes to your medication. These blood tests measure your:

  • Electrolyte levels (such as potassium and magnesium). Checking your electrolyte levels is important to help reduce your risk of developing another arrhythmia.
  • International Normalized Ratio (INR) if you take warfarin (Coumadin). Your INR levels let your healthcare provider know how fast your blood is clotting and whether you need changes to your medication.

A telemetry monitor constantly checks your heart rhythm. The telemetry monitor only works when you are in the nursing unit. You are allowed to walk around the nursing unit and go to the family lounge. There is a public computer in every family lounge.

Meals. You will choose your meals a day in advance. Fill out the menu that’s on your breakfast tray. Please let us know if you have any allergies or specific food preferences. If you take warfarin, please try to eat a diet similar to the one you eat at home to avoid changes in your INR level.

Showering. You will be connected to a telemetry monitor while you are in the hospital and cannot shower. You will be able to wash up in the restroom.

Cardioversion. You may need a cardioversion if your arrhythmia does not stop after taking the antiarrhythmic medication. Cardioversion is a treatment that sends an electric “shock” to your heart to restore a normal heartbeat. If you need a cardioversion, your healthcare team will give you more detailed information about the procedure.

When will I be able to go home?

Your discharge time depends on when your last EKG is reviewed and when your medication (that you will take after you go home) is ready. You can plan on being in the hospital until at least noon.

You can drive yourself home unless you had a cardioversion the day you leave the hospital. If you have a cardioversion, a responsible adult must drive you home.

Filling your prescription after discharge

Please remember to check with your pharmacy before you come to the hospital to make sure it can supply the medication you need. If you are prescribed dofetilide (Tikosyn), we will give you a one-week supply before you leave the hospital. Please let your nurse know if you have any questions or concerns about filling your prescription.

Traveling to Cleveland Clinic: For help with travel arrangements, out-of-state patients may call the Medical Concierge at 800.223.2273 ext. 55580. For reservations at any of the three hotels located on the Cleveland Clinic campus, please call 877.707.8999.

This information is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/05/2018.

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