Add bedpans to the list of potential hospital dinosaurs.
A recent study by health professionals at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas concludes that "there simply is no need for most patients to use a bedpan rather than a bedside commode."
Nurse clinical specialist Lynda Lane and coauthor Elizabeth Winslow, director of nursing education at Dallas' Methodist Medical Center, draw that conclusion from a study of 95 men and women -- a group that included healthy volunteers, general medical hospital patients and 26 people recuperating from heart attacks.
In all cases, the authors report, people overwhelmingly preferred the bedside commode to the bedpan.
"There's that psychological thing about urinating in your bed that's so terrible with the bedpan," Lane said. "People just hate it. It's hard to get on and off. It feels bad. You get your entire rear wet. You have to sit in your own urine. It's plain disgusting and it's not anatomically correct. You weren't made to do that."
Tests also showed that using the bedpan raised heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen consumption far more than using the bedside commode -- a finding that is opposite of what medical personnel believed when the bedpan was introduced 100 years ago to conserve a convalescing patient's energy.
Despite these findings, Lane reports that bedpans still are the medical device of choice for a few patients: those in traction and those who have such low heart output that they are in danger of fainting from getting out of bed.