Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Patient Etiquette: Things Nurses Wish They Could Tell Patients

You may be able to sense the sarcasm or the eye roll. We talk about these things to each other, but don’t say them to patients, but our working lives would be so much easier if people would exercise some common sense.

-If you are on regular prescription medications, bring them with you to the hospital. We may not have them or may not be able to access the pharmacy at night. At least bring a list of them if you don’t know the names, doses and frequencies. I don’t know which ‘little white pill’ you take.

-Bring your own toiletries. This is not a hotel. We don’t have blinders, toothpaste, mouthwash, gourmet coffee, or softer toilet paper for staff use only.

-If you don’t like our hospital gowns, bring your own pajamas. And please change out of your street clothes before you go to bed.

-If you don’t like our food (who does?), bring your favourites from home. There is no room service, no access to a kitchen at night, and a very sparsely stocked pantry.

-If you can manage to walk outside to smoke, you probably can walk to the washroom in your room at night. You don’t need a urinal at night. You’re a big boy. It’s not too hard to unplug your I.V. pump from the wall.

-Don’t go for a walk, and then return to your room to buzz your nurse to get you ice water. The pantry is for patient use.

-You have been admitted to hospital for a reason; you need nursing care. Most people don’t come to hospital because of the comfortable beds and great food. You won’t get the best sleep, but we have to check on you frequently through the night. If you wake up alive, that’s why.

-If you are asked to come to hospital two hours before surgery, please be prompt. Don’t complain about it. It’s not as bad as catching an international flight. The reason we ask you to do it is so we have time to admit you and also, if the first case is stuck in traffic, we can send in the second case, who is ready.

-Please limit your visitors. A dozen people in your room is not necessary when you are in for one night. (If I had a dime for every time this happened...) Also, visitors, please leave the room when asked to do so, so we can do our job.

-Don’t tell your relatives they can come to visit at all hours. We don’t feel safe when a stranger is suddenly standing in front of us at 1 a.m. or, worse, has just walked by unannounced and is in the patient’s room.

-Please be considerate to your roommate. Don’t allow your friends and relatives to use the toilet (or shower) in your room. There is a visitor washroom. They can shower at home. If I had a dime...

-If you share a room, please don’t keep your light, TV. computer or radio on all night. If you can’t sleep, please come out to the patient lounge.

-If you have sleep apnea, please bring your CPAP machine to hospital. It’s more than a little ridiculous that you want to stay for observation. Yes, we can see you’ve stopped breathing. Perhaps that could have been avoided.

-Family members: if you want to stay overnight with the patient, don’t sleep in the bed with the patient or crawl into the opposite clean bed which is for an early morning admission. If we offer you a cot, please take it. Don’t refuse it and then sleep on the window sill. You are not a cat.

-If you come to visit a co-worker, please know their name. A first name alone, or even a nickname won’t help us to locate them for you. If I had a dime...

-Don’t come in for surgery with a fresh manicure and all your jewellery, and then get mad at us when it must be removed.

-Please know your sickle cell status if you are African American.

-If you have asthma, please bring your puffers with you. Even if you haven't had any issues in a long time, the anaesthetic could trigger an attack.

-Don’t go for a walk carting a full urinal on your I.V. pole.

-If you are told to have nothing to eat or drink after midnight, please don’t drink a glass of orange juice or eat a light breakfast. Your surgery or procedure may have to be cancelled or rescheduled. This is for your safety, not your inconvenience. If I had a dime...

Thanks to Bindu Patel for starting this conversation on facebook.


Jonathan said...

I am to lazy to Google it right now and I will probably forget so I am asking now, can you explain the sickle cell thing? I have no idea what that is about so I am curious.
I always find insight from people in the health care or service industry interesting. Much if it is common sense but it is too easy to forget to be considerate of others especially when you are in a position where you are made to feel doted on or cared for. Hopefully I remember this if ever I am inadvertently being a jerk in a hospital.

piafinn said...

Haha, Jonathan. Most people aren't jerks on purpose, they just don't know. Anyway, sickle cell is a genetic illness that a black person gets from their mother. They can have sickle cell trait, and pass it on to their child, or they can have sickle cell disease, and go into crisis occasionally. Surgery can make a person who is sickle cell positive go into crisis. What happens is that the red blood cells which are usually round, form into sickles, with a hook on the end. They latch onto each other and clog up the veins and arteries and cause excruciating pain. Anywhere there is blood, even into fingertips. It can cause very high blood pressure and possible strokes due to blockage. It is treated with narcotics for pain, lots of fluid to dilute the blood so the blood cells can move more freely, and Oxygen, because sickles tend to form at low levels of oxygen. So in our dept. some anaesthetists won't do surgery if they don't know the patient's sickle cell status pre-op as it's too risky. Most pt's do know, and the word of the pt. is often enough. If they don't we draw blood, and there could be a delay or cancellation. Hope that helps.