I Wish Hospitals Were More Hospitable 735.5

Hospitals are super-sanitary institutions housing millions of dollars of technology and scores of trained medical professionals for the purpose of providing medical care for the sick and injured.

I just spent some time with my daughter at one of the better hospitals in New York City. She received great treatment, but I wish hospitals were more hospitable.

A hospitable place is marked by a generous, welcoming, and cordial atmosphere creating a pleasant, comfortable, and comforting environment.

Sadly, hospitals are often notably inhospitable. Cold indifference and insensitive behavior are more common than considerate compassion and sympathy.

Too often folks seem so busy, bored, or preoccupied with specific tasks that the emotional needs of patients, relatives, and friends are treated as irrelevant or annoying distractions. All but the most assertive are intimidated into passive compliance.

The message is: “Stay out of the way; we treat illness and injuries, not people.”

I realize it must be difficult to continuously deal with the anguish and demands of people who think their problems are the most important things in the world, but there are lots of wonderful hospital administrators, nurses, and doctors who know that emotional pain caused by stress, worry, fear, and uncertainty are no less important than physical pain and other symptoms of disease or injury.

Without any loss of effectiveness, they demonstrate that they are as interested in making people feel better as in helping patients get better.

I wonder what it would take to make that the new norm?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.


Some people claim the cool indifference is due to the idea that every patient is a potential plaintiff of an unfair or exploitative litigation. Thus, they and their families are often treated as adversaries. The irony is that people are far less likely to sue doctors or institutions they like. As a result, being decent, compassionate, and kind is not only the right thing to do, it is a smart risk-management strategy.

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