My spouse recently had a very brief hospital stay for a mastectomy. She only spent one night in the hospital. That was unheard of when I first started in medicine. In the old days folks would have been in for a couple of weeks for removal of the gallbladder or a hysterectomy and at least that long for a mastectomy. For a broken hip you could be in for weeks. Those long hospital stays with prolonged immobilization and bed rest caused incredible problems. Pulmonary embolus was common because of deep vein thrombosis resulting from prolonged bed rest.
Now days much of surgery is done as an outpatient and you are admitted only for the real big stuff like cardiovascular surgery. They have you out of bed by the time you are back in a hospital room and all sort of preventive measures are taken to prevent deep vein thrombosis like giving heparin to thin the blood and wearing compression devices on the legs to keep the blood flowing. They have you sucking on an apparatus to inflate your lungs to prevent pneumonia and atlectasis. Even with a broken hip you are out of bed the next day because of the sturdy hardware that replaces the broken bone. This rapid mobilization has greatly reduced the mortality rate. A broken hip in the old days had about an 80% mortality rate in the elderly.
My spouse was in for only 24 hours and for this I was most thankful. A hospital is not a safe place to be. A recent report revealed a scary incidence of antibiotic resistant germs ready to kill you. One that is getting a lot of attention is Clostridium difficile that causes severe diarrhea and colitis and can be fatal in the elderly. It is spread by fecal contamination and about 13 out of 1000 patients get it in the hospital. There is also the deadly methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) germ that infects 5% of hospital patients. The hospital is a scary place. Even if the personnel wash their hands to get rid of the germs they can kill you with medication errors. In the middle of the night, a nurse came into my spouses room to give her more blood pressure lowering medicine even though her pressure was down to 100/50. We refused the injection.
If the personnel and germs don’t get you the final bill will. You can stay at the very finest hotel in the world for only a fraction of the price of a hospital room.
I ended up suffering more from the hospital stay than my spouse. I spent the night, with only a couple of hours sleep, curled up in an uncomfortable recliner that has resulted in an incapacitating backache for the past several days. It’s sure good to be back on the porch.
We are very thankful for the brief hospital stay and are back safely on the porch where no lethal germs dare live and we are free from the very helpful personnel with dirty hands and syringes containing someone else’s medicine or a fatal dose of your own stuff. I’m thankful for modern hospitals but more thankful if I can stay out of them.