After a brief discussion of early- and mid-nineteenth-century hospitals, this article focuses on the years between 1880 and 1939, when those facilities underwent a major transformation and the proportion of hospital deaths steadily increased. During both periods, private hospitals refused admission to many seriously ill people and discharged others when death approached. City hospitals dumped poor patients with advanced disease on chronic care facilities and especially on almshouses. With each transfer, the quality of care sharply declined. And trips from one institution to another often inflicted additional suffering; some accelerated death.