“Stepped-on like a floor-mat”: human experience of hospital violence in the Northeast of Brazil

Annatália Meneses de Amorim Gomes, Marilyn K. Natins, Madel Therezinha Luz


Despite recent efforts to improve the quality of
public health services in Brazil, inequalities and
institutionalized violence persist in hospitals.
This critical anthropological study investigates
the human experience of hospitalization from the
viewpoint of patients of a public hospital located
in Fortaleza, capital city of the state of Ceará, in
the Northeast of Brazil. A qualitative method,
“The Patient’s Pathway,” was created and utilized.
It blends ethnographic interviews, patient’s narrative collected prospectively during the entire
hospitalization – from admittance to discharge –
and participant observation. The pathway of 13 keyinformant
patients was followed. Results reveal that
our patients narrated 225 distinct hospitalization
experiences. The majority (83.6%) was interpreted
by patients as “degrading” and “humiliating” their
sense of personhood; only 16.4% were seen as
“caring” for the patient, contributing to the recovery
of their health. A progressive demoralization
of the “suspect patient” is revealed, beginning
with his/her reception by uniformed guards and
confiscation of personal belongings. Hospitalization
is characterized as abandonment, loneliness and
imprisonment, due to the imposition of norms, rules
and procedures which ignore patients’ autonomy,
subjectivity and personal conditions. Despite the
oppressive hospital structure, patients manage to
resist, drawing upon multiple strategies: personal
traits, creative imagination, social solidarity and
religious faith. Humanizing public hospitalization
in the Northeast of Brazil requires including the
patient’s voice and experience while removing
harmful stigmas.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18569/tempus.v4i4.836

Direitos autorais

Revista Tempus - Actas de Saúde Coletiva (ISSN 1982-8829).
Revista coordenada pela Unidade de Tecnologias da Informação e Comunicação em Saúde (UTICS) do Núcleo de Estudos de Saúde Pública (NESP) da Universidade de Brasília (UnB).
Licença Creative Commons
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Atribuição-Uso não-comercial-Compartilhamento pela mesma licença 3.0 Unported License.