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Hygiene in the Hospital

Updated on December 2, 2013

  • Bed baths are a part of hospital life.
  • Your doctors and nurses are professionals. They've seen it all before, and will again.
  • Medical staff is responsible for inspecting all skin.

Modesty (or lack thereof)

Depending on why you're in the hospital, whether it's a planned procedure, car wreck, or a problem with other health problems, you'll likely be dependent on the nurses care to manage your daily needs. One of those is hygiene care and bathing. Welcome to bed baths.

So.. modesty is pretty absent in the hospital setting. I recently had a patient tell me something though that made me smile, and I’ll pass it on to you. She said when she was a little girl in the hospital, her mother told her there are three sexes of people. Men, women, and doctors. I would include nurses and care techs as well. We will do everything we can to retain your modesty, but part of our job is to see every inch of skin. We do this to look for signs of pressure, skin breakdown, infections, etc.

And, I say this in all honesty, after the first three months working in a hospital, every healthcare professional has seen, and become numb to, naked bodies. After a couple hundred, you learn that everybody really is the same.

  • Hibiclens baths are becoming more popular in the ICU setting to kill and protect against bacteria.
  • Shaving and shampoo sometimes falls behind. Speak up and let your nurse know if you need it.

Are Bed Baths Really Effective?

There’s a type of bath that’s spreading in popularity across the US, especially in the ICU setting. It’s called a hibiclens bath. It uses the same substance that we clean skin with to start an IV or draw blood, and it’s amazing at killing off harmful bacteria.

And, trust me, we can throw enough soap and water at you to get you clean. The areas where some hospitals will fall short is in the shaving and shampoo department. If you want these things done, and it’s been a while, just speak up. It’s ok to advocate for yourself, and we really would prefer that you do tell us if we’re not up to par.

  • The more you work and do for yourself, the faster your recovery.
  • Medical staff will push you, even if it hurts a little, to help yourself.
  • The medical staff is responsible for certain things, such as cleaning around a catheter.


Your Part in Hygiene

So, do you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy your sponge baths? Have you met any nurses before? Of course not! If you’re awake enough to interact with us, it’s time to put you to work. The secret to forward progress in the hospital is making you do as much as we can make you do. There are certain things that we have to do, even if you would be capable. They’re just too important to leave to chance. An example is cleaning around a catheter. We need to make sure you don’t get a UTI, so we will do that. But you get the rest.


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