Hospital Truths: The Good, The Bad, The Terrifying

Germs are everywhere. Arm yourself with either a bottle of hand sanitizer or, to be extra safe, straight bleach

Even if you’ve never been a patient, I’m willing to bet you’ve at least had cause or occasion to be in a hospital. As a person who used to work in one, and who has been in one, I present: Hospital Truths: The Good, The Bad, The Terrifying

They are dirty.

Oh sure, you’re saying, of course they are dirty. Here’s what you don’t know: The floors may look clean and polished. They may actually even be clean and polished. But they aren’t, not at the cellular level. And that’s not even where the real problem lies. Frankly, you’d be better off licking a hospital floor, as opposed to any other porous surface. They are all covered in filth. So much filth. Germs are everywhere. Arm yourself with a bottle of hand sanitizer or, to be extra safe, straight bleach. Just pour it. On yourself. On the floor. Just bathe in it. 


MRSA. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is EVERYWHERE. If you aren’t familiar with MRSA, you probably don’t want to be. It is not pretty. The ceiling tiles of the hospital are teeming with MRSA. The walls, the carpet, it’s all got the MRSA. And you don’t want to get MRSA. Ever. You'll know if you have MRSA because you'll have hot, red oozing sores. Sounds fun! No. It’s really incredibly difficult to treat. Just don’t lick (or even touch) the ceiling. (see also: Bleach. Gallons of bleach.) 

Iatrogenic Disease

Iatrogenic disease, is essentially the sum of any and everything negative that happens at the hands of a physician/hospital. Things such as: MRSA, sepsis, other infections that are not good, accidentally causing kidney failure (it happens). Bad things. Things you definitely do not want to have. Let's say your sweet little grandmother goes in for a hip replacement. The surgery goes off without a hitch. New hip. New Grammy. They suddenly grammy gets an infection. Now the thing that was a simple thing is a complicated thing. Grammy has the whole hip situation to heal, and now she has to fight off MRSA or some other thing she contracted simply because she was in the filthy hospital. It's not that the hospital doesn't want to be clean. It's just that there isn't enough bleach to dip the entire building into. 


It may seem like your nurse is ignoring you. She/he is not. In fact, it’s highly likely that she/he hasn’t even peed in several hours, if at all. It’s likely that he/she has not, and will not be able to eat. If you are in a medical/surgical unit, your nurse may have as many as 6 patients. And guess what? They all need their medication at 10 am. They all want ice. They all are in pain. They all need a new bag of IV fluids and a bedpan. I pinky swear to you, she/he is doing her/his best, given under staffing and the (now incredibly) full bladder. You may hear tales of nursing being a good career choice because it pays well. *Ahem* I’m a nurse. And now I’m an editor for a feminist website. That might serve as an indicator of how great the pay is/how hard the work it. I love nursing. In spite of the “good” pay, it is some of the most physically/emotionally draining work to ever exist. It's also incredibly rewarding. Unless you're walking around having to pee all day.

Also: Doctors are often mean. Even if they are incredibly kind to you, they may be calling your nurse an incompetent moron. Even if she’s not at all incompetent, or a moron. I’m not sure if this is just a form of projection or what. It’s real though. So mean. The nurses should be mean, they’ve been holding their pee for 8 hours. 

Hospitals are cheap. 

They are a business, and as such it is in their best interest to make money. They aren’t a charity organization. That’s why ONE tylenol is $10. Because many people don’t have insurance, or can’t pay for services rendered, those who can, pay more. Also because hospitals are cheap, they are always trying to be cheaper. Can we turn off lights? Do we really need to use sterile gloves all the time? Are you sure you want two packages of saltines? You don't really need two packages of saltines. Staff is rewarded for being cheap. Administrators call it innovative! Congratulations on being so innovative!  (Cheap doesn’t have a very nice ring to it.)

Along these lines, because of the whole ‘hospitals are businesses’ thing, you are the customer. And the customer is always right. So, if you want something, ask for it. Like a popsicle. Or a big cup of coffee. Or a newspaper. Or a lottery ticket. Or two packages of saltines.

They’ll probably give it to you. 

You are not a doctor. Thankfully.

You have not gone to medical school (and don't have a half a million dollars of student loans), but you are not stupid. Physicians have been to medical school, but that does not guarantee they are smart. When a patient is about to have a limb amputated the nurse writes on the aforementioned limb with a sharpie marker, and then asks the patient to verify that it is the correct limb.  That seems like a really innovative(!) idea. Until you realize, the reason that policy exists is because at some point someone cut off the wrong limb. 

When it comes to your own body, you are your own advocate. If something feels wrong, it probably is. People know more than machines. Don’t let any one tell you otherwise. Especially if it involves a limb.

Whatever you do, if you do go to the hospital, don't forget to bring a metric ton of bleach.  



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