Beware of Hospitals After Dark

call-lightI’m sure you’ve heard the jokes about how they wake you up all night long in hospitals, and then ask you how you’re doing. Last month, thanks to a series of rather odd events, I got to experience the joys of several nights in a hospital. I discovered that indeed, strange things do happen in hospitals after dark.

I’ve concluded there’s nothing one can do to stop the staff from waking you up at night, and believe me, I tried. But, there are some things you can do — should you have the misfortune to stay overnight in a hospital — that will definitely make your stay more pleasant.

First, get a sleep mask and ear plugs, and use them every night. They’ll help you block out a lot of the noise (and why are there signs outside hospitals for “quiet zones” when they’re so noisy inside?) as well as the lights. You’re not going to get a sound, long sleep in a hospital, but these two things will help with brief naps.

Even more important, guard your call light with your life. If possible, hold onto it at all times, even while you sleep. Before I learned this valuable lesson, I had several hospital aides hang my call light on a wall over six feet from my bed. Since I wasn’t able to get out of the bed at the time, this left me with no way to call a nurse.

But holding onto the call light isn’t enough. Any time an aide or a nurse has been around your bed, and is getting ready to leave, test your call light in their presence. I learned this sad lesson after one aide managed to unplug my call light in the middle of the night. I discovered it wasn’t working a few hours later, when I kept pressing the button to call a nurse and nothing happened. Finally, I started alternating between yelling and pounding on my bed with the call light, until someone finally came in to investigate.

I’d love to hear other suggestions for making hospital stays more pleasant, but to be honest, I’m hoping I never have to touch a call light again.

8 thoughts on “Beware of Hospitals After Dark

  1. Lynn Spencer

    Oh LinnieGayl! So glad you made it through okay.

    And I totally agree with you on the call light. I’d only add that you should NEVER let someone move your water or ice chips out of your reach. That happened to me once, and I sat there wondering if it was possible to die of dry mouth.

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  2. Katie Mack

    Yikes! What is the purpose of having a call light if they move it out of your reach?! Here’s hoping I’ll continue life without ever having to experience a hospital stay.

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  3. CindyS

    Luckily, the only time I had to stay in the hospital I was in the ER. I had fallen down the stairs and blacked out. Bob panicked and called the ambulance. I ended up in the middle of a great room and they woke me every hour worried about head injury. Let’s just say, I heard things (puking etc) that would normally have me running out a door but I must have been hurt because I don’t remember much except answering with my name, where I was and date.

    Other than that, I don’t want to experience a layover at the hospital ;)

    Glad you are on the outside!


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  4. Beth W.

    Any hospital aide should know better than to move your call light out of your reach. It’s one of the first things ANYONE providing any kind of patient care learns. That’s simply incompetence. If any aide does that, they need to be reprimanded.
    As for the call light being unplugged and not working – all the hospitals I’ve ever been in (between being a nurse and my mother being in and out of hospitals since January I’ve been in a few), if the call light gets unplugged, it “rings” at the desk, just as if you’ve pushed it. I’m surprised to find there is a hospital where that doesn’t happen.
    And there are some hospitals that are at least attempting to be quieter and to disturb patients less at night. But I know there’s a long way to go there.

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  5. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Beth W., thanks for the information. I’m actually thinking of writing a letter to the hospital about what happened. I did complain at the time, but nothing seemed to happen.

    Cindy, ERs are not a fun place either.

    Katie, I was just shocked that they moved it out of my reach. It was very obvious that I couldn’t get up, so there was no way I could reach it where they placed it.

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  6. Alice

    Hi!. Thanks a bunch for the info. I’ve been digging around looking some info up for shool, but there is so much out there. Yahoo lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the good work. I will be coming back in a couple of days to see if there is any more info.

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  7. Leslie Byrne

    Georgetown University absolutely crazy all night they keep you awake with cleaning, banging trashcans, checking blood pressure, 2 hours is all you can hope for.

    This needs to change so patients can heal quickly.

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