No Diaper Hospitals in the US - The Simon Foundat...

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No Diaper Hospitals in the US

incon1982 profile image
17 Replies

I just learned this week that some hospitals are refusing to give patients diapers/nappies while in the hospital, even when the person is completely incontinent - and even with dual incontinence (both bladder and bowel)!!

I am wondering if anyone here has:

1. Experienced this first-hand

2. Did you try and get the hospital to supply diapers, and did you get them or did they continue to refuse to supply them?

3. Did you or your family contact a patient advocate or the head of the hospital about this?

4. What did the staff do when there was leakage on the floor - an exam table - on a gurney, etc.?

5. Anything else you'd like to share about the experience.

I am trying to figure out how widespread this is, and if anyone has been able to successfully argue with the policy and get needed products while hospitalized. This seems so dehumanizing, and I cannot imagine the hospital infection control issues with this.

Thank you! You can chat privately with me if you prefer to not reply directly to the post.

17 Replies
scottytahoe profile image

I spent 2 weeks in a hospital and a week at another hospital. I had no problem getting diapers, wipes, and a really good bed pad that when from shoulders to ankles. I asked that I might be using a lot cause, well, we know how US hospital diapers are.

goodoleme profile image

Never had an issue myself.

Matt-reynolds profile image
Matt-reynolds in reply to goodoleme

Hi im in Britain im surprised that incontinence pads in US hospitals are so bad given that you are paying a fortune to be there i was in hospital for a few days was given tena slips to wear at night (i had the option to wear tena pants but they never work) this was all free on the NHS

incon1982 profile image
incon1982Administrator in reply to Matt-reynolds

Yes, the difference in insurance between countries is pretty amazing. Nurses here are saying that they are not using the absorbent briefs or diapers due to skin breakdown and preventing pressure sores. Liability issues loom large and heavy for US hospitals, and nonpayment if a pressure sore does occur. Somewhere in this whole issue patient dignity was forgotten - my personal opinion.

BNSrn87 profile image

I hospital I work for does not have them I’m stock.

incon1982 profile image
incon1982Administrator in reply to BNSrn87

Thank you. I think we are definitely seeing a "trend" here that is pretty distressing for many.

incon1982 profile image

I just recently had a personal experience with this, and the hospital absolutely refused to provide anything except a bed pad. It was distressing to my family member who really wanted an absorbent pull-up type product, and was terrified of getting out of bed and having a mess hit the floor. They said it was to prevent skin problems, but proper care would (I believe personally) would take care of that! The staff did offer a male condom catheter and leg bag instead, and so that was put on and offered some mental relief. There was still worry about any bowel issues, though.

Poprocks83 profile image
Poprocks83 in reply to incon1982

I’ve worked in healthcare for 13 years, I’ve seen some gnarly infections and skin breakdown. There is a great deal of peer-reviewed, evidence-based research that goes into these changes. Diapers aren’t expensive for the hospital, they buy cheap ones. The new absorbent pads are far more expensive but much safe for patients in a hospital setting. A nurse here (US) can have anywhere from 5-10 patients, if someone is soiled it’ll take a little while to get to that person. Trapped moisture in a diaper can cause skin infections and fungus to grow. When urine and stool mix, it can eat through your skin. Diapers are great for at home when the person has dedicated help or a routine. A patient’s home routine sadly does get interrupted in a hospital setting. My hospital has been diaper free for a while now. Patients know to bring their own and we aren’t supplying them.

incon1982 profile image
incon1982Administrator in reply to Poprocks83

Yes, infection and the risk of bedsores is very real. I guess no one solution is perfect. And I am sure lots of research goes into these decisions - at least one would really hope so!! But it was a shock, and terribly distressing to my loved one to have only the pad. And he was truly terrified of standing up and having a mess on the hospital floor due to no control over bowel and bladder. We somehow need to address that fear and humiliation risk for the patient in the kindest and most thoughtful of ways. It sounds like your institution is doing that with letting people know they can bring products from home and offering other medical devices as options for care while in the hospital. Keep up the great work!

scottytahoe profile image

That's crazy! They need to have diapers and wipes in every hospital. You're already miserable for being in there the last thing you need is stress on top of it!

incon1982 profile image

I agree. This was very distressing to him.

BarrySimpson profile image

I became doubly incontinent suddenly, following an accident in 2013 which left me with a spinal injury at C4/5, paralysis from the chest down and severe spasticity. I spent the first 7 months in a spinal injury hospital here in the UK, where remarkably little was achieved.

Since puberty I had worn a paper towel in my underwear to soak up any dribbles of pee or semen overflows, but really knew nothing about incontinence. The hospital never offered me any kind of incontinence wear. I had a bowel evacuation every morning, and for the first 5 months before a suprapubic catheter was installed, intermittent urethral catheterisation by nurses.

Hospital policy dictated that men's foreskins should be kept forward. I do not know the reason. It came across as another loss of freedom - although not all nurses insisted on it. I remember a regular night nurse who tried to make catheterisation a fun experience. She would flick my foreskin backwards and forwards 'to make the catheter go in more easily' she would say with a slight smile or a wink as she could see the result of her efforts. Early one morning she came twirling a suppository on a string around her finger: 'I've got a present for you' she said. 'I'm going to stuff it up your bum'. Leakages or accidents were left to chance. In the first 2 or 3 months I did occasionally leak urine via the normal route, but hospital policy preferred washing sheets to issuing incontinence wear.

For the first 7 weeks I was on 'bed rest' - I was confined to bed and turned from side to side every 3 or 4 hours, day and night. I wore no clothes. Not being a matter of choice, I did not find this a wholly pleasant experience. Some of the nurses were conscious of this. Two of them separately explained that they were nudists and visited a beach not far away - perhaps exaggerated, but it was kind and thoughtful to try and make it seem normal.

After 7 weeks I got up into a wheelchair, gradually up to about 8 hours per day. Although I wore outer clothing, underwear, including that for incontinence, was frowned upon. I guess that was to give easier access for urethral catheterisation at first, but even after a suprapubic catheter was installed hospital practice remained the same.

I got on well with one of the occupational therapists. One day, we had been talking about hospital policy on incontinence and underwear when I was practising writing (my hands are affected by paralysis). I wrote something like 'Does anyone in this hospital wear knickers?' She assured me that she usually did but sometimes enjoyed the fresh air 'commando style' when wearing a uniform with a skirt in summer. Next morning, when she was helping me to shower, I noticed that she was wearing a skirt .... I didn't ask.

Not long before I left, a thoughtful nurse intervened. When dressing me she found my pants and reinstated some kind of normality, as she said at the time, but still no incontinence wear.

Looking back, the lack of incontinence wear in this hospital was a serious fault in nursing practice. Being a specialist spinal injuries hospital, many of the patients would have become incontinent only recently and would be unlikely to know much about how to deal with it. The hospital did not prepare patients for living with it after they were discharged. I thought that their policy towards underwear, or lack of it, was unnecessary and demeaning.

I first began to wear an incontinence pad and fixation pants soon after returning home from hospital. A district nurse noticed I was wearing normal underwear, which was not really sufficiently stretchy for her to pull down for bowel evacuation, and no pad. 'We'll soon fix you up with some pads and knickers' she said. And so she helped me deal with what can lead to embarrassing and distressing situations put me on another step towards normality.

incon1982 profile image

Sometimes it's hard to know what on earth is going on in the minds of people that work in hospitals. Thank you for sharing this very real and intimate experience in a rehab hospital situation.

Don1973 profile image

I was just in the hospital for 3 weeks. I live in canada and inwas given new diapers every single day at the hospital

incon1982 profile image
incon1982Administrator in reply to Don1973

That's fantastic. My family member was in a rehabilitation hospital last year, and there he was given all the supplies he needed. So different hospitals here in the US obviously do things differently from each other. Glad to hear that Canada is providing supplies!

Poprocks83 profile image

I’m a registered nurse at a level 2 trauma center and we are attempting to diaper-free. The logic we were told is: Diapers trap moisture and keep it close to the skin, increasing the risk of fungus infections. Also if a patient in on continent of both stool and urine, combined those can eat away at skin.Most of our patients being their own or have families bring them. We do offer the pure wick for females and condom catheters for males. There are also absorbent pads/chucks, they can hold up to 2 liters of fluid! They allow the skin to breathe more efficiently than a diaper, preventing fungal infections and skin breakdown. Hospital diapers are not as nice or geared towards comfort the way store bought ones are. They are plastic with tape on the ends and the inside material isn’t as absorbent. Hospitals dump tons of money into researching these things, I’m sorry you had to experience it. I warn people, “we don’t have diapers, I can offer you this, this or this. If you specifically want diapers you’ll have to ask a family member to bring them in.”

incon1982 profile image
incon1982Administrator in reply to Poprocks83

Giving patients options is wonderful. I do understand that hospitals are trying to reduce infection, skin breakdown, and all. For some men, the external male catheter is an excellent option. And yes, the PureWick is a great invention for women! I hope more hospitals will gladly offer these alternatives. Thank you for adding your comments!!

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