In the hospital, people may involuntarily leak urine (urinary incontinence) or pass stool (fecal incontinence). In these cases, incontinence may result from the environment rather than from people’s physical condition.
The following may make incontinence more likely:
Being restricted to bed rest
Being given diuretics, which cause the bladder to fill quickly with urine
Having trouble getting out of bed because the bed is too high or because people are weak or ill
Having a disorder or having had surgery that makes walking difficult or painful
Having equipment, such as IV or oxygen lines, heart monitors, and catheters, in the way
Having a bladder or intestinal infection
Thus, getting to a toilet becomes complicated and may take more time and planning than usual.
One alternative—bedpans—may be hard to use or uncomfortable. Help may be needed to use the bedpan or to get to a toilet. People who have dementia, who suddenly become confused, or who have had a stroke may be unable to use a call bell to request help. After the call bell is pushed, help may be delayed. Such delays may result in incontinence.
Also, some drugs and disorders can make incontinence more likely to develop.
(See also Problems Due to Hospitalization.)
Staff members can set up regular times to help people go to the toilet. Placing a toilet chair (commode) by the bed is sometimes useful. Lowering a bed or rearranging medical equipment may help. Having access to a urinal is helpful for men. Making sure people are familiar with the path from bed to toilet and making the toilet easy to identify may also help prevent incontinence.