Why bedridden in the hospital

I recently spent ten days in a local hospital. I pretty much stayed in the bed all the time, which meant the nuisance of bedpans and urinals–no surprises there.
Bur the only part of me that was physically treated was my arms, since they gave me medications intravenously. I had the IVs in for hours at a time, and the doctors and nurses apparently didn’t want me to use the restroom–what they were actually treating was a severe infection in my left leg that has persisted for a few years despite antibiotics and other treatments. Is it common for people with legs not incapacitated to be restricted to the bed?

  1. They don’t want you accidentally pulling out or screwing up your IV. Those suckers can be hard to place, depending on the patient, and they bleed like a freaking horror movie, especially if they’ve been giving you thinners to avoid thrombosis.

  2. You don’t think you’re incapacitated, but they can’t be sure of that. If you’re dealing with an infection, it’s entirely possible for you to faint or stumble or whatever, and the liability is on them as long as you’re admitted. They don’t want you moving at all without a nurse or aide helping.

  3. See #2. Liability reduction is just under (hopefully under, anyway) patient recovery on the priority list.

Was your leg ever debrided, or operated on in some other way? Getting up and walking may have interfered with healing in some way, on top of the other things listed here.

Patients are not kept on strict bed rest unless there’s a very good reason. It can lead to (among other things) blood clots and pneumonia.

ETA: Upon reading it more closely, the OP says it wasn’t.

The only time that I spent a week in hospital I had IV on me a lot of the time, because I wasn’t eating or drinking. However, I was encouraged to get up and walk about, to get some exercise. Since the IV equipment was on wheels, that was wasn’t too difficult for me.

I’m curious for further information as to the state of the leg and whether they told you specifically to stay off of it. Were both legs really not incapacitated? Having an IV in isn’t enough reason to make you stay in bed, there are more drawbacks than benefits unless there’s good reason to stay off the infected leg. I’m wondering if there’s a little more to the issue?

My only hospitalization was for different reasons (obvi), but I was on my feet often. I was on fluids the whole 4 days I was there and had to pee every couple hours. I had my own bathroom and used it just fine, grabbed the IV pole and used it for support the day after surgery and then just grabbed it to pull along because I had to. One of those nights was in ICU with airway issues and lots of epinephrine. I was jittery and bouncy and couldn’t sleep. My nurse brought me a chair, she didn’t know what to do with me, ICU nurses aren’t used to patients who keep getting out of bed! But no one discouraged me from doing so. It was a pain because while I was in bed, they wanted me to keep the thrombosis pressure thingies wrapped around my calves, and the mattresses on all the beds moved and it was hard to relax. On the last night, I was doing laps around the floor (finally disconnected from fluids) at 5am. I was never discouraged from moving as much as I was comfortable doing.

When my appendix ruptured, followed by an appendectomy, I was hospitalized for two weeks. Never allowed out of bed, nothing to eat or drink, and 24/7 IV. I was so weak, I don’t think I could have gotten out of bed even if allowed.

You had a quad bypass sometime ago if memory serves? How long were you down then? My uncle was on his feet 3 days later, which was a bit shocking.

When I wore a younger man’s clothes, I had my appendix removed. After the surgery, I was told to use a specially designed bottle to pee in. I said to myself: “Screw it, I’m not doing this” so I got up, grabbed my movable IV stand, headed out of my hospital room and onto the floor to go to a toilet. The nurse almost got a heart attack when he (it was a male nurse) spotted me, walking like a zombie on the hospital floor. This most have been less than 12 hours after the surgery.

Over here they get you on your feet as soon as you can stand. Nurses don’t want to deal with bed pans if they can avoid it. In fact, once you can walk to the door, they give you your clothes and tell you to keep going.

Kate was out with Princess Charlotte six hours after giving birth. That is pretty normal for an uncomplicated delivery.

The consensus is that hospitals are dangerous places, full of airborne bugs, and home (where your own germs live) is much safer.

Did they give you anything for the pain? If so they might have been worried about your stability.

So a severe infection in your leg, which has persisted for years lands you in hospital and you really can’t comprehend why on earth they wouldn’t want you out of bed, walking about? :dubious:

Was this question directed at me? I don’t recall being in great pain after the surgery. The one thing that bothered me was the urge to vomit (I believe this was a reaction to the tube that had been placed in my trachea during surgery).

I think the reason to stay in bed for a while after an appendectomy is to prevent the fresh scar from rupturing. Also, I had this surgery back in the 80s and I believe they use less invasive methods these days.

Another anecdote for the pile …

My experience is all as a visitor, not a patient. IME, patients are strongly encouraged to stay in bed unless accompanied by a staffer. They’re also encouraged to get up and walk as much as their strength, stability, and stamina allow. Immediately post-op, or under heavy meds, or elderly / frail, that may be zero. Later, shortly before release, that may be 10 rounds around the corridors every day.

So as a practical matter for somebody who’s in better than average shape, the limiting factor may not be their individual capacity for walking, but rather the hospital’s staffing capacity in providing a helper. A bathroom visit occupies a helper for 5-10 minutes. A walk around the corridor 15 to 20. Helpers have lots of duties besides just this. If they have 1 helper per 10 patients, well, you do the math.

During several extended stays where I was there every day for the patient, pretty soon they realized I was an effective helper and we got a lot more walking in. Which they strongly encouraged.

Having been hospitalized 3 times last year, from experience the only time I was not supposed to get out of bed without assistance was when I had a Foley catheter and multiple IVs. It was way too easy to get tangled in the tubes and fall.

The first couple of times I did get up on my own the nurses had a collective small herd of cattle, but when they saw I was steady on my feet, walking around was encouraged.

When I was on the hospital for fracture repair, I didn’t want to get out of bed because my good arm was the one fractured and I didn’t want the idea of walking with the (stabilized but broken) arm on a sling and attempt bathroom needs with the unoccupied but not skilled arm, which had an IV port put there but no IV line at the beginning.

Well, night time came and the nurse was “Have you gone to the bathroom today?”, to which I replied “No”, and then “I’ll give you ten minutes to go on your own to the bathroom, or you’ll get a catheter.” She and another helper were nice enough to assist me (or rather, telling me how to) get out of bed.

And yes, it sucked feeling your dangling loose bones while you move about and do business.

Later on, they did put a full IV line on my remaining arm, and yes, they still wanted me to make it to the bathroom on my own (which I did). And it was a requirement for me that before discharge I had to use the bathroom (with the now fixed arm still slinged and unusable).

The general goal these days is to get patients up and ambulating as soon as possible* in order to lower risks of other complications (including respiratory problems and infections) while preparing them for discharge ASAP.

Balanced against this are situations where people are frail or otherwise predisposed to falls and have to be closely watched.

But again, keeping people in bed unnecessarily has long been out of fashion.

*the way things are going, I’m surprised nurses aren’t demanding you be up and out of bed before the anesthetic wears off.

First Banana: “I was in bed two weeks with acute hepatitis.”
Second Banana: “Which one, you lucky dog? They’re both cute, those Hepatitis girls.”

My wife said a nurse moving her from the operating area asked her to help get on a wheelchair, my wife said uh I had a C section. The nurse is like so?My wife said the damn epidural hasn’t worn off I can’t even feel much less move my legs.

My aortic valve was also replaced. Was briefly on my feet on day 4. Yes, my open heart surgery had me bedridden less than my appendectomy.

In fact, I had no pain from the infection --it’s lymphedema, making my left calf swell up. For several days I had an awful red rash–with a rough texture–on the inside of the lower leg. The doctor in charge–a keen mind if ever there was one–had me zapped with a powerful antibiotic which drove the rash away and worked wonders elsewhere on the leg. (My own doctor prescribed an antibiotic for me , in pill form.)
It may also be that they had me stay in the bed–a nice big comfy bed–because I am overweight and I did have a bit of difficulty standing…

If you were seriously edemic there’d be a goal to get that down by minimizing your time upright. Plus, if the rash could take it, compression hose or bladders, etc. If the rash can’t take compression, then you being horizontal with elevated legs is as good as it gets. With each minute upright undoing the good of an hour or more of laying down.

Edemic cellulitus can go from [annoying rash] to [serious as a heart attack] a lot quicker than most laymen understand.

As well, a heavy person on wobbly legs is an in-house injury just waiting to happen. And not one a 110# nurse’s assistant can reliably prevent by holding your arm as you shuffle to the potty.