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View Full Version : US Hospitals: what happens with your stuff?



goldmund
10-16-2013, 05:41 PM
Hi, Experts!

A girl without family or relatives has a car accident and wakes up in a hospital.

Where are her clothes / things she had with her at the time of the accident?

I'd really like her to be able to grab her stuff and escape the hospital as easily as possible. :-)

Thank you!

Orianna2000
10-16-2013, 05:44 PM
I've never been in an accident and woken in a hospital, but I have been hospitalized a few times. Generally, they put your clothes in a plastic bag (often with the hospital's logo on it), which is kept in a small closet in your hospital room.

If she's not in a private room (in the ER, for instance), it might be a different situation, I don't know.

asroc
10-16-2013, 05:51 PM
With the nurses in the ER or ICU (depending on where she is) in a plastic bag with the patient's name on it, if known. Her clothes will very likely have been cut off/largely destroyed.

DeleyanLee
10-16-2013, 06:40 PM
Back in 1988, my sister's friend lost control of the car on black ice and it swerved into oncoming traffic on the other side of the highway and got clipped by a semi. Neither of them were wearing their seat belts (which actually saved their lives, BION) and were crunched into a condensed car. My sister drifted in and out of consciousness and was awake for most of the jaw-of-life rescue. Her friend was in a coma for three days from the closed head trauma. Neither of them received any other internal injury and neither of them were bleeding.

My sister was released from the hospital a few hours later, when we could get up there to get her. She stayed in her own clothes the entire time, though her purse and jewelry were put into said plastic hospital bag and were in the room with her. She had a killer headache for about four days and got dizzy easily, but didn't have any bad problems. But, then, she didn't lose consciousness for a long period of time.

Her friend was swept into the ICU, where she was for a couple of months. When she woke up, she couldn't stand because her sense of balance was wonky and her vision was blurred. She was connected to monitors and a ventilator, had IVs and I don't remember what else, but she was wired to pretty much everything in the room. She had to go to PT for a few months to be able to walk again and talk clearly again. It was over a year before she trusted herself behind the wheel of a car.

Losing consciousness (outside of a simple faint) is a big medical deal. Your character is likely to wake in the ICU, where she has a private alcove of a big room with many nurses and staff around, if not with her, and wired to all kinds of things. Sneaking in and out will be harder than just out of a normal room (which is doable). In 1988, my sister and her friend were at a relatively small regional hospital. If this is happening in a bigger city, it's likely to be even more so.

You might want to do a little more research into losing consciousness and closed-head injuries, if you want this to be realistic. If this is a fantasy or she has some Wolverine-like healing factor, well, then you can ignore most of this. ;)

Saanen
10-16-2013, 07:08 PM
They put your belongings in a plastic bag, as others have said. After my mom had a stroke and was taken to the hospital, when I arrived her shoes and purse were in a bag with the hospital's logo and "Patient Belongings" on the side. They're sturdy bags, not flimsy like the ones they give out at grocery stores.

jclarkdawe
10-16-2013, 09:18 PM
Unconscious patient? Most likely stripped in the field/ambulance by the EMTs, but if not, the nurses will do it at the hospital. This is not a gentle, unhurried stripping, this is take the scissors and cut. With an unconscious patient, you have no feedback on what hurts, which means you need to search the entire body for injuries. She would not be leaving the hospital in the clothes she was wearing -- they'd be rags.

If the police don't want her belongings as evidence, the stuff goes in a bag, that travels with the patient from ambulance to emergency room to hospital room. Cell phone will be used to find relatives/friends if she has no medical records at the hospital.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Trebor1415
10-16-2013, 09:49 PM
I agree, the clothes she came in with would have been cut off and destroyed. The remains may not even be in the "personal effects" bag if they were too bloody. (I've seen it done both ways in the ER).

Best bet is she'd wake up in a gown. Don't forget she'll have to remove her own IV as well. She'd most likely have one running saline just to keep a line open.

For clothes, if she's willing to steal, she could steal someone else's clothes or find the storage closet where they keep scrubs. They'd have scrubs in the ER in a closet somewhere or possibly stored in a break room.

goldmund
10-16-2013, 10:32 PM
Wow, you're amazing! Thank you! These details are great.

Let me tell you what I need plot-wise:

She has a ticket for a plane and a fake passport. The plane leaves in several hours.

She wakes up in the ICU, disconnects ECG monitor (would she have one?) and IV, finds her stuff in the bag you described.

The doctor comes in with an assistant. She says that she has to leave and refuses to stay. He doesn't want to let her go and makes the assistant either:

1) take her to some medical test
2) take her to police officers who want to know what happened and who she is (there are problems with relatives & social security as there's a fake name in the passport)

on the way, she escapes the assistant, grabs some clothes and her duffel bag back from the room she was in and escapes through the ER entrance.

Is it plausible?

melindamusil
10-16-2013, 10:37 PM
Unconscious patient? Most likely stripped in the field/ambulance by the EMTs, but if not, the nurses will do it at the hospital. This is not a gentle, unhurried stripping, this is take the scissors and cut. With an unconscious patient, you have no feedback on what hurts, which means you need to search the entire body for injuries. She would not be leaving the hospital in the clothes she was wearing -- they'd be rags.


And those scissors are seriously sharp! When I had my accident, they cut up and down the sides of my favorite coat (with very thick material!), they cut off my blue jeans, AND they cut right through my leather belt - didn't even take time to remove it, they just cut it into pieces.

asroc
10-16-2013, 10:54 PM
Is it plausible?

Not really, sorry.

Disconnecting monitors will set off alarms at the nurses' station.

The stuff in the bag doesn't just sit around somewhere. Where exactly varies, but it's usually locked away where the patients can't get to it. Clothes don't randomly float around a hospital either. You can find some, but not if you're on the run.

In the many hospitals I've been to the ICUs were always quite a ways away from the ER. Plus ICUs are often locked units. The doors don't open unless the staff unlocks them.

And most importantly someone who was in an accident serious enough to leave them unconscious long enough to make it all the way to the hospital, into the ICU, where the care is intensive for a reason, is just not going to be in any shape to make a mad dash for freedom.


And those scissors are seriously sharp! When I had my accident, they cut up and down the sides of my favorite coat (with very thick material!), they cut off my blue jeans, AND they cut right through my leather belt - didn't even take time to remove it, they just cut it into pieces.

Good EMT shears can cut through pennies.

sheadakota
10-16-2013, 11:25 PM
Wow, you're amazing! Thank you! These details are great.

Let me tell you what I need plot-wise:

She has a ticket for a plane and a fake passport. The plane leaves in several hours.

She wakes up in the ICU, disconnects ECG monitor (would she have one?) and IV, finds her stuff in the bag you described.

The doctor comes in with an assistant. She says that she has to leave and refuses to stay. He doesn't want to let her go and makes the assistant either:

1) take her to some medical test
2) take her to police officers who want to know what happened and who she is (there are problems with relatives & social security as there's a fake name in the passport)

on the way, she escapes the assistant, grabs some clothes and her duffel bag back from the room she was in and escapes through the ER entrance.

Is it plausible?
Sorry not plausible.
ICU nurse here.

She wakes up in the ICU-- Ok, first off, it is not like it is on TV. People just don't wake up after being unconscious. She will most likely not know where she is, what happened or be in way shape or form ready to run. nope not happening.
Rips off her EKG patches-ICU is a big open space- lots of glass so nurses can see their patients. Monitors are not only in the Pt room but at the nurses desk and in our hospital there is something called an E ICU. somebody in another part of the hospital watches her monitor all day every minute. that is all they do. It is to prevent sudden change in heart rythms from goin undetected.

Rips off her IV- Most pt's who are admitted with head injuries will have mitts- sort of like big soft boxing gloves attached to thier hands to prevent just such an occurance. People wake up confused and start trying to rip things off. Nurses hate that.

Finds her stuff- Locked up to prevetn it from being stolen, or really to prevetn family members to try and accuse staff of stealing personal belongings.

She says she wants to leave- first if she is underage, staff can legally keep her there without her consent if it is deemed medically needed.
Doc Has assistant take her to test- IN ICU the tests come to you, not the other way around. also she would not bee deemed compitent after just waking up from a head injury-
Also scrubs are locked away- you need an access card to get to them and only staff have them and they are usually worn on their ID badges.
sorry but none of this going to fly.

If you want her to leave the hospital without permision- my first advice would be not to put her in ICU. dont give her a head injury of any sort. If she is conscious, couldnt she just flee from the scene?

jclarkdawe
10-17-2013, 12:39 AM
I hate making problems when I don't have a solution, but your problems start way before she gets to the emergency room.

Fire/Rescue and police arrive on scene of a one vehicle accident with unconscious driver and no other people from the vehicle. EMT will check for medical alert bracelet and assuming none, will know (and hope) that there aren't any serious life-threatening whoops we can do. Quick check while checking the body for injuries for surgical scars. One that tends to excite us is a zipper (heart operation). But surgical scars will give us some information for starting with.

Meanwhile, the police have the vehicle's license plate number. This will be run to see who the registered owner of the vehicle is. The registered owner is then cross-checked with driving licenses. In many cases, the police computer will spit out an image of the driver, along with physical description.

At the same time, the police will check the victim's purse/backpack/wallet for identification, such as driver's license and credit cards. Also included in this search will be a check of the glove compartment for identification.

Understand that there is a pressing need for this information. One is to identify the person and hopefully ascertain who it is so that medical records can be accessed. Second is some poor smuck is going to be knocking on a door and letting that person know their wife/daughter/mother/whatever was just in an accident and is now unconscious in such and such hospital. Preferably the knock is going to be made on the right door.

Unless all the information matches, the police are going to up their investigation. People do not usually allow their passport to wander around without them. If the police think the passport is faked, then she's going to have a police officer sitting on her in the hospital. Unless the fake passport is extremely sophisticated, police are going to find out very quickly that there are problems.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ULTRAGOTHA
10-17-2013, 05:19 AM
Hospitals make assessments to put someone in the ICU. It's not automatic after a car crash. When my wife went all wonky and out of her mind and we were ruling out strokes and raging meningitis, the ICU evaluator came down and determined she did not meet the criteria for ICU. She wasn't sick enough.

If your character meets the criteria for ICU she's not going anywhere under her own rational steam, even if the doors were wide open (which they aren't because people in ICU can do terribly self-damaging things in their delirium like rip off their EKG leads and pull out their IVs and try to wander away, and the entire unit is purposefully set up to make that sort of thing very very very hard to do).

If it's a car crash the police will want to speak with her in hospital. If she's well enough to escape from hospital a few hours after the car crash, she's well enough to be questioned by the police.

It's certainly possible for her to be in the emergency room with all her clothes intact and to get out of there. She might even still have her purse if she never lost consciousness for any length of time.

Saanen
10-17-2013, 04:02 PM
Oh yes, emergency room and ICU are totally different. Again, after my mom's stroke when I went to the hospital she was in a small (windowless, basically featureless) room where she was being monitored after being admitted through ER. Eventually she was moved to a real room in the hospital itself, but only after several hours. She was still in her clothes, they'd only removed her shoes (since she wasn't injured). It would definitely be possible to walk out of the ER (although not easy because it's busy and doctors/nurses/other official people are everywhere). If you worked it right depending on what you need for your plot, maybe your character could get out just as the cops were coming to question her. I'm no expert on ER facilities, fortunately, but I've seen two and my impression is that they are cramped, busy, and confusing. It would be easy to have the cops coming up one aisle and your character slipping away down another toward the exit. She could hear them but they couldn't see her, maybe. Tension! :) Good luck!

jaksen
10-17-2013, 04:18 PM
I'm not a nurse, doctor or medical professional, but I've been to the ER many times because of my mother (elderly, suffering dementia) and my son (autistic/retarded, has seizures.)

In the case of both they (ER staff) have placed my mother or son's belongings in a sturdy plastic bag and placed it under the examining table or bed. In my son's case, he's going home soon, and that's where they place his things. In my mother's case, she might be admitted (or not) and that's where they place her things.

Prob. just the hospital policy? But this has happened 6+ times and in three different Boston-area hospitals and one hospital on Cape Cod.

Kathl33n
10-17-2013, 04:49 PM
For clothes, if she's willing to steal, she could steal someone else's clothes or find the storage closet where they keep scrubs. They'd have scrubs in the ER in a closet somewhere or possibly stored in a break room.

I worked in a Dr's office that was part of a hospital, and my husband worked in the same hospital. He worked on computers and often times, in the middle of a procedure, he'd have to go into the room and fix a computer. So, he had to be in scrubs.

In the hospital he worked in, they had locker rooms for nurses/docs to change in, and they'd have the scrubs in there, not in the break room. Often times my husband would run late, and I'd hang out in the break room until he was done for the day so we could leave. We carpooled back then.

Don't know if this is helpful, but I thought I'd add it just in case.

sheadakota
10-17-2013, 05:31 PM
different hospitals most defintely have different policies. The hospital I work at is a large level 1 trauma center. security is a big deal.

storygirl99
10-17-2013, 08:23 PM
I think others have noted this, but a patient is only in the ICU while they need 24 monitoring. I was in the ICU for 4 days after MAJOR surgery and couldn't even walk under my own power. Once I was stabilized I was given a regular room where I recovered for another week before I went home...still very weak. If your character is going to "escape" from the hospital, put her in a regular room, not the ICU. It will be much more plausible. Her belongings will be in a drawer, she won't be monitored constantly and she'll have a better shot at getting dressed and leaving undetected.

goldmund
10-18-2013, 03:43 PM
Thank you very much! This gave me a lot to think about. I think I'm going to change my plan, given how hard it would be for her to escape :-)

ebbrown
10-18-2013, 10:58 PM
And those scissors are seriously sharp! When I had my accident, they cut up and down the sides of my favorite coat (with very thick material!), they cut off my blue jeans, AND they cut right through my leather belt - didn't even take time to remove it, they just cut it into pieces.

That stinks. We cut the clothes off of trauma patients, which is often necessary because they are strapped to a long board with a c-collar on and can not be moved. I've never cut someone's belt, and we try our best not to cut a coat. On arrival, the patient is given a primary exam to locate major injuries. Shortly after that we ROLL the patient to make sure we are not missing anything (such as a gunshot wound to the back), and at that point it is fairly easy to get off any remaining clothes without cutting.

That makes me sad someone cut your coat. :(

melindamusil
10-18-2013, 11:14 PM
That stinks. We cut the clothes off of trauma patients, which is often necessary because they are strapped to a long board with a c-collar on and can not be moved. I've never cut someone's belt, and we try our best not to cut a coat. On arrival, the patient is given a primary exam to locate major injuries. Shortly after that we ROLL the patient to make sure we are not missing anything (such as a gunshot wound to the back), and at that point it is fairly easy to get off any remaining clothes without cutting.

That makes me sad someone cut your coat. :(

Ebbrown, I was strapped to a backboard, with a c-collar, and unconscious (GCS 3) - so I know they made the right call in cutting off the coat (and everything else). I was kind of a mess. :)

Strangely enough - a little over a year later, I was thrift store shopping with a friend, and I found another identical coat, in great condition!

DAMac
01-10-2014, 03:33 AM
I took my wife to the emergency room with symptoms of a stroke. She was seen by a couple of doctors and given some test. It took between two and three hours but she was never actually admitted to the hospital. After the test she was released.

Nivarion
01-10-2014, 12:05 PM
I was in a vehicle vs pedestrian accident in 2010. (It was my birthday, which is the fun part of the story)

My shirt was shredded from bouncing down the road. I didn't loose consciousness and pulled the shirt off myself when I arrived at the hospital. (very awkward around a neck brace) which the nurse took and folded and placed on a counter by my bed. I found it funny that she folded it, because there were at least three holes over three inches in it. They also put most of my effects there.

As was mentioned up thread by Jclark, they'd likely cut the clothing off if they suspect any type of major injury. If you have something that could kill you if they don't put pressure on it/put pressure on it they want to know about it as quickly as possible.

I've never been knocked out, but I've uhm, well I've knocked someone out, and he wasn't really up for moving afterwards. He was only out for a few seconds too. (Oh fist fights) If someone were injured badly enough to be unconscious for days, they'd likely need a few days to recover at least.

They didn't watch me for hours when I was in ER even though I was marked as being a critical patient. I even disconnected a pad accidentally and no one came to check for several minutes. They thought I had a contusion and broken bones which aren't likely to cause quick death. I probably could have walked out if I felt inclined to.

I didn't have a contusion, and had only cracked my Radius. They didn't even cast since it was a very minor crack.

Maybe a half conscious/delirious patient would have better chances of escape?

Cath
01-10-2014, 03:52 PM
Reminder: check the thread date before posting. This hasn't been active for a few months.

Nivarion
01-10-2014, 11:42 PM
Reminder: check the thread date before posting. This hasn't been active for a few months.

hahah. didn't notice this was a necro.