How to Write a Hospital Scene

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This scene was suggested by a fellow writer.


In a rush? Skip to part three…..

Part One

1

    1. There are two different types of hospitals. Mental Hospital and the regular hospital we’ve all been in. For this scene in particular I will be focusing on the latter.

»A. Explain to your audience why the character(s) is in the hospital and whether or not it’s for them or a friend/family member.

I.     What does the character bring and how long do they wait? Is it in the ER which is for emergencies or is in the regular waiting room. Please note: if someone was shot or given birth or the like, this person would get priority treatment in the ER.

II. Kids under the age of 18 would likely be on a pediatric ward. There are exceptions, for instance if the injuries sustained were severe enough to be in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) or possibly the step down unit. If they had to be revived but had no other injuries, they probably wouldn’t even be admitted to the hospital.

III. What happens in the waiting room, if anything? Are confessions made, friends met, someone arrested, or nothing because the person goes straight to a room? Any complaints made out of frustration or anguish?

IV.   How is (whatever they are experiencing) affecting them? Were the character(s) on a adrenaline high after breaking their arm from falling off a motorcycle but now is feeling the pain? If so, have them scream in pain, cry, hit something, bit their lip, breath in and out hard. Let’s say they have a disease, then maybe they are praying, holding the hand of their loved one tight, closing their eyes, rocking back and forth in their chair, etc. If they are waiting for someone then maybe they do the same things as mentioned above.

Example 1:  (Coming Soon).

 

»B. What do the doctors/ surgeons have to say? Anything good or all bad news?.

Note: The following can occur-

  • The doctor would say everything is okay and nothing needs to be done. Patient accepts and walks out. Maybe something minor is done like a cast for a sprain or a scan to check if any bones are broken. Even then, the character is fine and walks out free.
  • The doctor tells the patient everything is fine but the patient doesn’t believe them. They demand a second opinion or to be rechecked.
  • Doctor finds something wrong with the patient and character needs to stay in order to be diagnosed. Or leaves out the hospital with pills, in a wheel chair, or surgery schedule for something major (if that has not already occurred in the ER).

I.     If the doctor finds nothing wrong with the character and the character agrees you can add the following in order to progress your story along: maybe a family member demands a recheck; or another doctor comes in with bad news of their own and apologizes that the other doctor almost missed the problem; a hug between the doctor and patient is given; or another problem is diagnosed that is not related to what your character came in to the hospital for.

II.    If the character doesn’t believe the doctor; you can add the following: character becomes uncontrollable and becomes an endangerment to everyone around; therefore they are taken to a mental hospital; character continues to argue with doctor and if character is educated discuss why the doctor is wrong; character goes through another checkup to make sure they are free of anything. Maybe the results come back with something wrong.

NOTE: To be admitted into psychiatric care one has to meet a certain criteria. So the character could then be admitted after being in the hospital and after being assessed by a professional.

III. If something is found, then doctors may do even more checks with various devices such as MRI, ultrasound, EMG (for nerve tests), and so on. Be sure to identify the appropriate tests your character will take depending on their circumstance. Someone coming in for a cold will not need any scans unless the cold has lasted a month or several months. Maybe the patient has more symptoms than a cold and will get a test done. Don’t forget about blood tests.

Now, if something is found the doctor should tell the character how they will treat them and what are the next steps. Cancer has chemo therapy. Cysts and odd lumps has surgery and aspiration. Colds have medicine and a disease usually has pills. There is more to it than that, this is where you would have to do a bit more research.

Use this as a chance to bring multiple generations together. When a loved one is in crisis, usually their whole family unites, bringing a mix of personalities into the same place at the same time. The scene would flow naturally from there, based on the characters’ relationships to each other and primary motivations.

Example 2:

(Coming Soon).

»C.Emotions Cannot Be Ignored!!

I.    It doesn’t matter what the doctor told your character, good or bad, what is your character feeling? As if a massive truck has been lifted from their shoulders when they found out their disease is curable.

II.   If bad, what do they do, how are they feeling? Does the world stop, do they faint, do they become a statue. Now is the time to give you audience background about why your character took the news the way the did. Example:

  • He told me the news as if I was at my own funeral. Dr. Baling took a step back knowing full well what to do. This was my fourth doctor’s visit and in the past I hadn’t been so cooperative. My hands flew in the air before, I shouted and argued with him. Although today was different. Taking a deep breath in then slowly out, I looked up at Dr. Baling. I’m sure the look in my eyes spoke the whole truth and nothing but. My dream was to be a basketball player, the best.

    This disease had stripped that away from me, leaving behind a trail of broken dreams. After shaking my head side to side, I looked toward my doctor once more. “Just kill me now,” I said as a tear fell from my eye. He rushed over to grip my left hand, smiled and told me I’ll be okay. “Don’t let this defeat you,” he said, “You will be successful. Life is never easy but you make the most of it. You hear?” Unlike in the past, I remained calm. Even went in for a hug from Dr. Baling. Never had I realized as much as I do now how great of a man he truly was.

III.    What is promised to the character from the doctor? Usually a promise is made like, you will get better or it will not affect your work. Little promises that can mean a lot. So, have the doctor promise your character something that is important to your story. If your character is an athlete your doctor may promise him/her they will be able to play the sport again in a few short months. If your character is a singer and has laryngitis, the doctor may promise that even though their voice sounds like a pen scratching chalkboard now, she/her will be able to sing again. This promise is important because it gives the reader a since of the emotional aspect but also the technical aspect. Meaning, there is a cure for their problem. However, if the problem has no treatment then the doctor may promise them this: I will be with you along the way…. You still have a few short months to live… there is a cure being found in east Asia maybe in a few months they will allow me to use it on you.

 

Example 3:  (Coming Soon).

 

**

Part Two

  1. Get into that atmosphere. Let it play a key roll in this scene. These examples will be primarily for the ER but can be used for others.

»A. Describe the room…

I. 

  • Low light on at all times, and there are cords hanging down for the nurses call button and the IV solutions.
  • An electronic machine sitting on a cart with odd wires leading from it,a privacy curtain hanging from a track on the ceiling.
  • The bedside table has several get well cards and a bouquet of flowers.
  • There is an aqua colored water glass with a bent straw in it, a half eaten tray of food with the big metal cover that was on the plate, and a telephone that doesn’t work.
  • Door is propped open, and nurses and orderlies walk by, their sensible shoes squeaking on the pristine tiles.
  • A TV hangs in the corner, tuned to the Reverend Bob H. Wells- who thinks you should write him a large check for a blessing- because the remote control is lost, and the TV is too high for the nurses to reach. 
  • There are wires glued to the character’s chest and coming up through the neck of their hospital gown…the most embarrassing garment invented that has no back and lets every human know what the underwear look like.
  • The window has a mini blind on it, and a view of the roof of an adjoining building. 

Example 4:

(Coming Soon).

**

Part Three

  1. For those of you in a rush, here is some bits and pieces of What a Hospital Scene Will Contain:

»A.Entering the hospital:

  • Nurses trying to be helpful, directing you to where you would like to go.
  • The floor is shining clean, long corridors.
  • Signs in green saying EXIT.
  • Rooms with numbers on the doors.
  • Some doors are open and you can see the patient according to their situation, could be sleeping, visiting with a
  • relative, others with oxygen tubs applied at their noses.
  • At the Nurses Desk lots of laugh although the rule is of “Shhh”.
  • Nurses no longer wearing white starched uniforms neither white shoes or stocking go and come, many with dirty
  • tennis shoes, and instead of the uniform wear just regular half shirts .
  • The rooms could be private ( one patient in it) others could be semi-private ( two patients in one room)
  • Also it can be a Ward, meaning a long row of beds for a Charity Ward, this one is very sad to see.
  • If the doctors have the rounds they stop to check the chart of each patient.
  • When the person is bleeding or in with a heart attack they are taking immediately to the attention of the Physician on duty.

Example 6:

(Coming Soon).

 

**

Part Four

  1. Describe the journey back home. Whether after a surgery or a general checkup.

»A. Leaving the doctors room, how does your character act?

I.   Is their head hanging low from shame and sadness, head up high in pride and happiness? Hands clapped together for peace or in pockets for failure, remorse? Silent? Rejoicing to the high heavens?

II.     Do they go home alone and if so where do they stop on the way? Are they so grateful for life that they say sorry to their mortal enemy. Do they go to a church to repent? Do they go home to do research on their problem? Do they call a friend?


III.     Maybe you can have the character speak to someone on the way out. Tell that person everything would be okay, or an update about their visit, or something to leave an imprint. Especially if a truck has been lifted off their shoulder.

IV.     Lastly, how is the news broken or given to their loved ones? In person? At the hospital where everyone gives a big hug of congratulations or sadness? Show who is important to your character and how they share the news with them. It will show a more-in-depth look at your character. The best way to understand anyone is when they are going through a crises. Show your audience who your character truly is and how they handle their news.

Example 7:   (No Example Added- but you can add one for your scene).

 

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