What Does It Take to Make Hospitals More Hospitable? It Might Take Just a Moment

July 9, 2014 9:06 PM

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What Does It Take to Make Hospitals More Hospitable? It Might Take Just a Moment

Physicians rarely spend a night in the hospital as a patient. We are there to work. But last year I unexpectedly spent a few nights in a row as an in-patient. I had elected to stay in a quad room, which placed me with two roommates on the orthopedic surgery floor. I was horrified by what happened during the nights I was there. I shared that quad with two women about twice my own age. Both were recovering from implants after hip fractures. As such, they required moderate to maximal assistance for toileting. Daytime staff were getting one patient up to the washroom on a regular schedule, and this seemed to prevent incontinence. This 98-year-old patient spoke only Russian and German and was lucky enough to have a family member at the bedside as an advocate throughout the daylight hours. There was a drastic night and day difference, however. Night nursing staff spoke to her very disparagingly in English. This may have been because they didn't think she could understand what they were saying, but the tone of voice was unmistakable as disdainful, bothered, irritated, and frankly disrespectful. There were expletives and, "Geez! Come on, will ya!?"

The other patient was better able to advocate for herself, although she had a tendency to get confused at 9 p.m. and to hold forth in loud conversation with make-believe party planners until midnight. When she cried out in pain during the changing of her soiled Depends, she would admonish, "You don'...

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