You have good reason to be afraid of hospitals in the middle of the night, suggests an article in the latest New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. David Shulkin, CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, writes that reduced staffing in the wee hours may mean a "stark discrepancy in quality between daytime and nighttime inpatient services." From "Like Night and Day: Shedding Light on Off-Hours Care":
The consequences of service deficiencies during off-hours include higher mortality and readmission rates, more surgical complications, and more medical errors...
Financial constraints play a role in the lack of provider services. Shrinking reimbursements from government programs and third-party payers make it economically prohibitive for many hospitals to fully staff their facilities 24 hours a day. ... Another major obstacle is the nursing shortage. More-experienced nurses understandably choose desirable day shifts. As a result, night and weekend shifts are filled with a greater percentage of temporary or agency nursing staff, many of whom have less training and less familiarity with the hospital.
So if you're in for a long convalescence, perhaps it would be better to commute from home. Perhaps there's a nurses' carpool you can join.
Hat tip: A Healthy Blog.