How Hospital Stays Resemble Enhanced Interrogation

Review of the Central Intelligence Agency's manual on enhanced interrogation techniques reveals disturbing analogies between the unintentional consequences of some hospital practices and those aimed at purposefully disorienting and dehumanizing prisoners.

Use this essay to:

  • Ask yourself what aspects of our hospital practices resemble prison. How does the loss of autonomy affect some patients? Does it explain why some are “noncooperative”?
  • Can you think of ways to address some of the problems the authors note? Can we alter the schedule of certain tests? Can we do a better job of making sure patients understand what is about to happen to them, and why?
  • Learn at the bedside! Ask patients on rounds what aspects of being in the hospital are bothersome. Are there little things that could be improved? Have blood draws, other tests, and blood pressure measurements been explained to them? Are there things your team can do to make the hospital stay better?

Annals of Internal Medicine is the premier internal medicine academic journal published by the American College of Physicians (ACP). It is one of the most widely cited and influential specialty medical journals in the world.

Back to the November 2020 issue of ACP IMpact