How often are hospitals required to bathe the elderly?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What do you do when you're in a semi private room in the hospital and a 65 year old woman who has been here 2 weeks, is beside you asking her son and husband to get the nurses to get her a bath and they tell her to hush about it?  She is literally crying because she says she is itching so bad! What are the laws protecting these sweet people from laying in the hospital without a bath when their families could care less? It is inhumane to make anyone lay in a hospital bed for that long without a bath... Nurse helper, nurse, or family!  Doesn't matter who's responsibility it is. If I knew I wouldn't be breaking boundaries I'd take her for a bath myself. It's called caring about others and I have truly realized how little that happens around here!  This is so sad :(

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

This is a tough situation. There may be a good reason why the patient is not getting a bath, like for instance she has a skin condition or rash that would make it contraindicated. Whatever the reason, I would recommend talking to the charge nurse or nurse manager about your concerns. Hopefully, they can help clear this situation up for you. Good luck!