What better than a beautiful bouquet of flowers to cheer up a sick loved one in the hospital? It is now common practice in hospital wards to ban flowers on the grounds that they are unhealthy and create extra work for the nursing staff.
What's the research?
A study in the USA in 1973, found that fresh flower water in hospital wards became contaminated with harmful bacteria within three days. This research predated other studies that found that most patient infections came from peoples hands and that flower water would only be a risk if someone handled the flowers and then didn't wash their hands properly
British Medical Journal article 2009
A questionnaire of 39 nurses conducted in London in 2009, highlighted concerns that flowers harboured bacteria and hayfever inducing pollen. Vases of water near electrical equipment and a risk of smashed glass and the arrangements getting in the way during an emergency were also issues. The point was also made that if flowers were welcome on the wards the media coverage had put visitors off bringing them anyway
.Media coverage on the topic has included an article in the Telegraph in 2004 that highlighted the confusion and dismay over banning flowers from wards.
what the NHS says
a post on their website in answer to the BMJ article states,
"Hospital wards are likely to continue making decisions about whether to accept flowers based on the associated risks and workload implications"
It seems that it hasn't been proven that a vase of fresh flowers by your hospital bed will harm you. But to not burden our already overworked NHS staff with fresh flower care is a reason not to bring them in.
What would you take in if you were visiting a loved one in the hospital?