Are flowers allowed in the intensive care unit

Are flowers harmful in the hospital?

Anyone who would like to surprise British friends or relatives in the hospital with a bouquet of flowers may unexpectedly be faced with the resolute shake of the head of a nurse, because in some clinics in the UK flowers are strictly forbidden for reasons of hygiene and safety. And here in the country too, many friends and relatives are unsure whether the well-intentioned bouquet is not an additional risk to the patient's health. However, Giskin Day and Naiome Carter from Imperial College London give the all-clear. After analyzing data from various British hospitals and existing studies, they come to the conclusion that bouquets do not pose a threat.

The most common concerns raised by clinic staff are that bacteria can romp in the water of cut flowers and that falling vases will destroy sensitive equipment or increase the risk of accidents. In addition, it is suspected that the plants could rob the already ailing patients of oxygen at night. The last argument in particular led to the fact that the nursing staff in many hospitals collected the bouquets every evening in order to distribute them to the patient's rooms again the following day. However, studies have now debunked this risk as a myth. It is true that plants absorb oxygen instead of carbon dioxide at night, but these amounts are so small that even several bouquets do not represent serious competition for oxygen for the patient.

This article is contained in Spectrum - Die Woche, week 51, 2009

The argument about potentially deadly bacteria in flower water seems more understandable. Anyone who has ever changed the water on an ostrich that is several days old will not be surprised that scientists have detected a large number of microorganisms in it. But so far no case is known in which flower water was responsible for an infection acquired in hospital. So there remains the question of the risk of slipping or the destruction of technical devices by falling vases. Day and Carter also put this risk into perspective: drinks or food on the bedside table can also cause such accidents, but only the unloved vases are forbidden.

Bouquets of flowers in cheerful colors can have a very positive effect on the course of the disease and well-being. Patients with flowers in their rooms need less pain medication after an operation, have a more relaxed heartbeat, and are less likely to complain of anxiety or fatigue. Although flowers are a typical present for women, they also have positive effects on the man's psyche. In the long term, plants have a positive effect on mood, social behavior and memory in both men and women during the healing phase.

In any case, the rules for flower decoration in German hospitals are less strict. Except for the patients in the intensive care unit, nobody has to do without bouquets as long as they are not too expansive and do not smell too strong. Potted plants, on the other hand, should only be given away when the patient has left the hospital: they are not welcomed there because of the soil.