Setting Description Entry: Hospital


ambulances, doctors, nurses, ambulance attendants, paramedics, volunteers, porters, priests, visitors, firemen, police officers, pink/green/blue or patterned scrubs, gurney, clipboards, IV bags and stands, blood, cuts, bruises, pus, torn tissue, casts, arm slings, wheelchairs, waiting rooms, pens attached to wires, needles, gauze, bandages, band aids, tongue depressors, white sheets/bedding, surgical tools, stainless steel desks, operating tables, carts, security cameras security guards, nurses' stations, computers, dialysis machines, heart monitors, blood pressure sleeves, rib spreader, saws, stainless steel dishes/containers, sinks, trash cans, cleaning staff, boxes of Kleenex, sinks, tiny bathrooms, antibacterial stations, stethoscopes, penlights, digital thermometers, green cloth-lined instrument trays, bedpans, life support machines, catheter bags, stitches, old magazines/papers in waiting areas, TVs, movable overhead light, gas canisters/masks, disposable gloves, worried & distraught patients and visitors, oxygen tanks, Xray machines, MRI, CT scanners, protective lead aprons, white boards, doctors' lounge, nurses' lounge, plastic tubing, bloody cloths, defibrillator, hospital curtains, movable beds, beds in the halls, pay phones, jugs of water, flowers, cards, gift shop, cafeteria, pop machines, snack machines, sliding glass doors, elevators, exit signs, ward signs, display boards with unit info/floor numbers, front desk, coffee shop, spotless floors, parkade (underground), morgue, maternity ward, , parking staff, donated art work, plaques on the wall, public washrooms, ER room, admitting desk, sick people, line ups, ID badges, ambulances, air medical helicopters, crazy people (mental conditions, druggies)


doors sliding open and shut, furnace, air exchanger, screams, cries moans, gasps, grunts/hisses of pain, people talking in low voices, intercom calling out codes/directions, squeaky wheelchairs, the clack of the keyboard, a low-volumed radio or TV, heavy breathing, the whoosh of life support machines, crying/sobbing, the rattle of papers on a clipboard, newspapers/magazines in a waiting room, the snap of a gurney being raised, bleeping machines, phones ringing, calls for assistance, rattly breath, wheezing, coughing, sneezing, the bing of an elevator reaching a floor, water running in a sink, pouring into a glass, the chatter of food trays on a cart, pills clicking together in a disposable medi cup, the rattle of garbage bags being changed out, cleaning staff spraying down surfaces, chairs scraping the floor, the squeak of rubber soles against the floor, throat clearing, air conditioners, the grinding of surgical saws or drills, directions from doctor to operating room support staff and nurses, crying babies, fire alarm, ambulance sires, air ambulance (helicopter)


cleaners (pine, lemon, bleach etc), antiseptic, a metallic tang from stainless steel in the open air, bleach wafting from bedding, blood, vomit, sweat, perfume/cologne, the scent of get well flowers, questionable food smells from room trays, grease/meaty/soup smells from the cafeteria, coffee, cigarette smoke wafting off people leaving designated smoking areas, decay/festering tissue


Burnt coffee from machines, bland food from vending machines, Hospital food (jello, pudding, soups, oatmeal, bland chicken, mashed potatoes, dry buns or toast), snack foods from vending machines (granola bars, chips, candy bars, pop, juices, energy drinks, bottled water), gum, mints, cigarettes snuck outside or in a designated smoking area, bitter pills, too-sweet medicines, cafeteria food: salads, sandwiches, soups, fries, beef dips, burgers, meat loaf, chili), metallic taste of anesthesia gas, blood, sick taste in throat, phlegm, vomit,


Cold metal bed rails, soft pillows, crisp sheets, smooth plastic emergency remote/call remote, pain (hot, deep, burning, sharp, dull, achy, stabbing, probing), the prick of a needle, cool swipe of antiseptic being applied on skin, a sweaty forehead, sweat dripping down the neck, hair falling across the face, fingers probing an injury sight, bandages being applied to a wound or being removed (pulling, tearing, slicing, burning), aching bones, throbbing head, stomach sickness, a drink straw to the lips, dry, cracked lips, pulling stitches, a mask pressed over the mouth and nose, a shaver against the skin (pre-surgical), sponge baths, warm blood through surgical gloves, slippery organs, hard bones, sinuous tissue, a beating heart, cold metal instruments, pain at bright lights, numbness, fumbling for a loved one's hand, reaching to touch their face, tears running down cheeks, the stiff waiting room chair, paper against fingers (flipping through a magazine, newspaper), gripping knees or armrests at bad news, clenched hands, a cool cloth to the forehead, ice chips in the mouth and throat, a dusty/bitter/smooth pill or caplet on the tongue, washing hands or using hand sanitizer

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

My gaze swivelled over the waiting room, looking for a place for Andrew and I to sit. A TV played quietly in one corner, a distraction that might help keep his mind off the stitches he would need in his arm. The seats closest to it stood empty, sandwiched between two sweating and shivering men. As one leaned forward and filled the space with harsh, hacking coughs, I understood why no one else had jumped at the prime location. I steered Andrew to the other side of the room, the bland walls and tableful of torn magazines suddenly much more appealing.

Example 2:

The ambulance doors swooshed open into chaos; beds lined the hall, each holding a moaning, writhing burn victim. Nurses in scrubs scurried from patient to patient, assessing the worst cases and screaming for the attention of the ER doctors. Bloody cloths and burnt clothing hastily cut away littered the floor and char hung in the air.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

I stroked Nana's hand where it lay on the white hospital linen, her age-spotted skin as thin as rice paper.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The orderly sped down the hall with his crash cart, straining to reach the ODed rock star. Doctors swarmed her bed, bees serving their queen, racing to bring her back from the dead.


JaxPop said...

Med Gas stations.

I build medical centers as part of what I do. My guys stored their lunches in the unoccupied morgue trays. Rough bunch. Nothing like the mixed smells of ham, cheese & 'preservatives' - I guess.

PJ Hoover said...

Nice! A place of pain where all our characters should be!

Bish Denham said...

I've spent enough time in hospitals to know...good job.

Alexandra said...

Wow. How do you manage to put these things together? So in-depth.

Angela said...

Thanks everyone! I had to rely on my TV show watching and imagination fo rthe most part as I haven't (thankfully) spent much time in a hospital.

*knocks on wood*

Sherry said...

These are awesome! I wish you had a post on mental or Psychiatric Hospitals, too!

Hmmm, maybe you can post one! :-)

Kilian said...

You might want to add Benzoin to the smell category. I love the smell of Benzoin in the morning!

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks Killian. :)


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