Although the bedpan is a subject of everyday nursing practice, little research was found concerning this issue. Patients often describe that the use of the bedpan is uncomfortable and painful. Studies also underline that using a bedpan is very embarrassing and shameful for the patients. Their privacy is violated considerably. In this quantitative descriptive cross-sectional study, the frequency and duration of use of the bedpan was measured in acute care. 362 women and 367 men were included in the study, 18.2 % of them needed the bedpan for a certain time. It was used more often during the night than during the day, departmental differences were also identified. Women used the bedpan most at the orthopedic and medical wards, followed by the prenatal ward (for urine). Men from surgical wards used the bedpan most (12.3 %), followed by medical wards (8.3 %). Most patients required assistance while using the bedpan. Because of this the resulting workload for nurses should be underestimated. The introduction of alternative urine drainage systems could lead to more autonomy of patients and might reduce the workload for nurses.