If we were to describe a dystopian novel in which people go into hospital sick in order to be cared for, and come out disabled, you would be horrified. However, that’s what’s happening in today’s hospital care for the elderly.
An Aug 10, 2017 Medscape article titled “Elderly Hospital Patients Arrive Sick, Often Leave Disabled” tried to identify why this was happening but failed to come up with any solutions.
Doctors were quoted as saying “The older you are, the worse the hospital is for you. A lot of the stuff we do in medicine does more harm than good. And sometimes with the care of older people, less is more.”
Much of the problem has to do with too few staff, and as the article states, “Hospital staff often fail to feed older patients properly, get them out of bed enough or control their pain adequately. Providers frequently restrict their movements by tethering them to beds with oxygen tanks and IV poles. Doctors subject them to unnecessary procedures and prescribe redundant or potentially harmful medications. And caregivers deprive them of sleep by placing them in noisy wards or checking vital signs at all hours of the night.” And this list doesn’t even cover medical and prescription errors, so common in hospitals.
A medical director said “Bed rest is really, really bad; it sets off an explosive chain of events that are very detrimental to people’s health.” Nursing homes are even worse, because patients are often overly drugged to keep them anchored to their beds, which puts less stress on the staff.