Lying-personally and professionally-how do you feel about it?

  1. I was raised that lying, for any reason, at any time, is wrong. As a consequence, I am a stickler for the truth, and try always to tell the truth. To be very honest, I sometimes tell only part of the truth, if the whole thing is too painful, insulting, or would make me look bad or stupid.
    As a nurse, I have never lied to anybody about anything-when you have people's lives in your hands, it is a trust that should not be abused. I have, however, learned to couch the truth in more "socially acceptable" terms that seem to make it easier for folks to take.
    What about your personal relationships?
    I saw a sign in front of a church once that said, "wrong is still wrong, no matter who says it isn't."
    Opinions, please...
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  2. 26 Comments

  3. by   Robin61970
    I would have to say....situations can make a difference here. For instance, your child draws a really ugly picture and says well see there is a dragon...you can't see it, but you always say oh yes I see......it's beautiful. So yes I guess I would lie, but I try npt to lie in other situations. I am the one who always tells people if I don't think what they are wearing looks good on them........I would want them to do the same for me.......
  4. by   thisnurse
    if you consider shading the truth or sparing someones feeling a lie then we all lie.
    i dont usually lie but if i am up against the wall i absolutely will.
    and yes i have said i was sick when i wasnt.

    i believe in the truth too. i tell my kids that nothing is so bad that you have to lie to me about it. and i try to keep that in mind when they are telling me something they have done that will make me mad...lol

    i dont lie at work. i dont lie to my patients. it is a sacred trust. there are some "truths" i hold back but if im asked point blank i will tell the truth..just as i would want my nurse to tell me the truth.
    tho i may not tell the "whole" truth...

    well mrs jones im afraid the survival rate for pancreatic cancer isnt very good. its probably going to spread and you will die....

    no ...lol...i would say

    well mrs jones there have been cases of people surviving pancreatic cancer. and if she pressed me i would just refer her to her doc.

    if thats considered lying then yeah i do it all the time.
  5. by   debbyed
    I have to say my actions pretty well line up with thisnurse. I don't intentionally lie for the sake of lying, but there are times when I don't tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Course' never been close to being perfect either.
  6. by   CATHYW
    I can see where you all are coming from. thisnurse, I guess I am just going to have to begin to look at things your way. A couple of things though-my dad always said to tell the truth, because then you wouldn't have to remember what version of a story you had told somebody. the other thing is, when you lie, you think the person you're lying to is stupid enough to believe what you are saying. I think that is an insult. I keep getting hung up on this point...
  7. by   Jenny P
    Cathy, there seems to be something bothering you about this topic. And I do think that we all say we tell the truth in most situations.
    I really don't believe in lying, myself, but I have done it (ie: when we were first married and I saved $$$ all year and bought my hubby a set of bagpipes for Christmas ("gee, I don't know what I spent that $20.00 on last week; I guess I need to increase my spending money allowance since it just doesn't go far enough each week").
    I also didn't tell my kids the "whole truth" when it came to my youth-- I told them some, but not all, of my experiences when I was trying to teach them right from wrong and about making poor choices which could affect a person for the rest of their life.
    In most of my personal life, I do not lie. I tell my friends if something doesn't look good on them or they have hairs sprouting from their chin; and I hope they would do the same to me.
    In my professional life, I have never lied to a patient that needed a straight answer; even if I had to tell them that they were dying. By gently probing them about what and why they are asking me certain questions; I usually get them to talk about their fears. I did get kicked off of a case that I was a primary for because the wife would not let anyone tell the pt. he was dying. He asked ME, and I told him. I was his advocate, not hers. She also wouldn't let anyone else visit with him, nor did she tell him about all of the mail he received; so I felt the pt. needed to know that there were others in the world who cared for him. She claimed I was under her orders not to upset him and tell him about the mail and that he was dying.
    Telling a lie to protect someone's feelings or privacy (including your own!; such as by saying to the nosy neighbor "We are fine" when you and your spouse have just had a ripping arguement) isn't always wrong either; just don't go overboard with it!
    I really do try to tell the truth over 99% of the time; but there are circumstances when I don't tell all of the truth.
    I think it boils down to not harming others and being ethical in your life. If you can be ethical, you can bend the rules when neccessary.
  8. by   hoolahan
    "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to decieve."

    Don't know who said it, or if I quoted it correctly, but my grandfather taught me that, and I have never forgotten it, although, like this nurse, I have lied in those kinds of situations.

    Let me give an example of a major web I got trapped in. New job as CHHA (cert Home Health Aide) supervisor. First pt I have to see is returning from the hosp, so I have to do a re-assessment. The DDD program supervisor tells me she is having a hard time placing CHHA's in this home b/c it is so filthy, the carpet is sticky, yes, the carpet! The pt won't let them wash her, and she is covered in stool in the am, won't change her diapers, so urine has leaked all over the place, and the carpet. Makes it seem like there has been an ongoing problem, etc.

    First I review the chart. There is very little mention of these conditions in the chart. DDD sup tells me aides don't want to tell the pt they don't like going there, don't want to hurt herfeelings, but in this apartment complex, the same CHHA's see multiple pt's. Forget confidentiality! It blew me away when one pt told the DDD sup where and when she could find an aide at any given time! Anyway, pt finds out CHHA's are seing another pt, contacts DDD sup, she gives some excuse apparently, tho she made me feel like she was straight with the pt. So here I come. I plan to review every single right AND responsibility with the pt. Right to live her life as she chooses, YET a responsibility to provide a clean and safe envir for us/herself. And inform her of consequences, etc... She must let CHHA'swash her, that is why they are there for personal care, and she needs to change diaper more often to prevent skin breakdown.

    Go to meet her. My heart breaks! She is a disabled nurse, has had CVA x3 L arm so contracted and crippled it is not usable, weak shuffling gate, she can't balance with a walker and won't use her quad cane b/c she can't carry things. So, she is using a very shaky rubbermaid stackable drawer cart as her assistive device. What can I say, I don't know of any DME that fits what she needs. I did review R & R, emphasizing CHHA's would like pt to be fresh and clean before cooking for food sanitation reasons. I don't havethe heart to tell this woman I am d/c ing her. There has never been any corrective action documented and this clearly did not develop overnight!

    I call the doc's office. They are home visiting docs. The intake RN asks what's going on, if she had been the one to open that case, she would not have accepted it, and she says if it continues, they will not be able to care for her anymore. GREAT! DO they tell her? No. Next day I went back to pt house to have her sign care plan, CHHA and DDD sup were present, we reviewed a plan, she will have a light bkft prepd by CHHA day before or have a bkft bar and juice box type thing at bedside for am, then when CHHA comes, first order of biz is a bath. I can tell she doesn't like this, but DDD sup says, please try it, we need to keep a CHHA with you, likeI told you. I figure, she really can't not have help. This day there is feces on the BR floor, the CHHA is getting ready to clean it up. God bless her. This is an everyday thing.They don't want to walk on her floor since it is regularly covered in urine, food, and stool, and Lord knows what else.

    CHHA's tell me she got a letter from the landlord, demanding $650 to tear up carpet and place tile.This woman doesn't even have money in the bank account for her groceries when the CHHA's go to the supermarket. They have been buying her food. I told her, the CHHA's cannot buy her food, period.

    After talking with MD's nurse again, explaining how I feel we have to give her a chance as the previous nurse never dealt with these issues. She saw my point, so she got off my case, but suggested I contact adult protective services (APS), as they have been known to give homes an overhaul, and the pt doesn't have to pay. So I do.

    I called DME co's to check on equiptment, no luck. Then I checked on status of diaper shipments, since CHHA says she needs to have someone call to place her diaper re-orders, and she only changes her diaper 2 x day . DME girl says she can do auto order. Turns out this lady only likes to use the pull-up diapers (she told me in my asessment). Her order was for a case of regular diapers, and one case of pull-ups 72 per case. OK, you do the math, 72 div by 30 days a month, maybe that explains the 2 diaper changes a day. Medicaid will allow her to get 2 cases of pull-ups, so I called MD back and asked them to fax DME that order. All of these little things are so simple to fix. But no one ever bothered to get passed the smell in that apartment.

    I went back to tell the pt what I did about the diapers, and asked if that was OK, she was happy, but she was angry that someone sent the social worker. She asked who did that? I said I did. I told her my main reason for doing so was to save her from having to pay the $650 for the tile floor replacement. But she says the social worker said someone told her she did not change her diapers and refused to be bathed, Hey that was what I was told. I thought the MSW would be a little more discreet, so now I am the *****! Fine, if it helps the lady in the long run, I can live with that. I kind of BS'd my way out of admitting to that. She has to learn that my only reason for my actions is that I have her best interest at heart. Not the whole truth, I admit, but still the truth. After all I feel I need a little time to establish some kind of rapport, while still making the CHHA's happy, so she can keep getting help. I am told all other agencies had d/c'd her. If we d/c her, she won't be able to get anyone. Then I got the MSW from APS's phone number from pt, called her and she reams ME a new one, saying she noticed no odor in the house! For crying out loud, my eyes were almost tearing! Then she says no one told pt of any of the problems they were having with her. I did begin the process of telling the pt our concerns. I mean her landlord informed her of c/o from other tenants, so is she a little forgetful, or manipulative? Or did THEY lie?? Who knows, that will come out in the wash. I don't know, but she is a pitiful sight to look at, that is for sure. Plus the MSW has no idea all the work I put into this case, it has consumed my first entire week, leaving no time to prepare an inservice for a week from now, since prior nurse did not make sure all the aides are up to date, now that is my problem too! MSW gives me a lecture on maybe our values aren't the same as hers, DUH, I felt like saying I have that info myself, on my HH website, thank you, but it IS her problem, b/c if we cannot keep CHHA's in there, she will end up in a nursing home, if she has no help at home, and no way to see MD. Boy she got me pi$$ed! And it WILL be APS's problem if no CHHA's will go there, they will have to try to get her declared incompetent to remove her from the "environment of her choosing" when she is evicted, which the psychiatrist says she is not.

    I admit itwould have been too mean to be completely honest with this pt, in my first week of knowing her! These other people haven't been honest with her for the last year!!!

    I would be interested in hearing what you guys suggest. I have to have a joint visit with APS at the home on Monday. I volunteered for this, I didn't haveto be there, so all the cards will be laid on the table, and I will be the person this lady will never trust again. This sucks! All I want is for everyone to be taken care of and happy.
  9. by   Aerolizing
    Wow Hoolihan,
    What a story!
    You really did go that extra mile for this patient and she has no idea. It is hard to get past that smell (when you can't breathe) and see the person behind all of that stool and old urine.
    How other health care providers let that slide by, I have no idea. That is neglect, not different values. No one should be living in their own filth.
    I work with gero-psych patients in long term setting and no matter how much they protest, it is wrong wrong wrong to let them sit in their own stool. I have had to help aides as we have many patients who bite, kick, and pinch when they are being toileted and cleaned up. Doesn't matter. They need to be cleaned up.
    As far as the furniture, maybe getting a few of those hospital bed pads for her fav sitting spots and her bed so they can be washed may help her from soaking her bed and furniture.
    As for the resident not trusting you again.... I would tell her the truth. I would tell her that I care for her and want to help her live the sort of life she wants to. I would also tell her that her trouble with mobility means she needs certain help that is not negociable if she wants to stay home. Maintaining a clean environment is one of those things. She may not like that social serivces had to be called in but I would tell her exactly what you were trying to do...save her a bunch of money so she can afford to live at home for one more month. I would turn it back on her as soon as possible, asking her what she wants and how she would like you to help her. How can you be upset with someone who tells you that they care about you and that you are trying your best to help her?
    Now, for that MSW...What is her problem? Sounds like covering her own bottom esp if she was neglecting this patient. No smells detected from her? Is she not able to smell or has she not been doing all she should have been doing for this lady. At any rate, yelling at you solved what? Team members need to work as a team. If the patient is full of urine and stool as is her apt, this needs to be adressed. If the patient was being neglected, someone has to address this. Maybe she is upset this makes her look pretty bad.

    Good luck and keep doing what you are doing.
  10. by   hoolahan
    Thanks Aero! I am going to print out your response to remind myself! I like the way you put it, very succinct, to the point and objective too!

    She has chux, a box of 150 per month, so we are using those, but maybe the washable ones area good idea. We made an agreement she would use bibs while eating. The first time I saw her, her clothing was soaked and stained with food!

    First time MSW saw her, but she says she found a "woman capable of making her own decisions about how she chooses to live." OK, if you say so. I am going to call the HHA early Monday and tell her NOT to clean up any stool on the floor, and leave bed linens alone, and do as little as possible, so this MSW has a good idea of how she will be "living" if our HHA's can't wash her and why they refuse to take her case. It is not uncommon for this to happen around here, I have spoken with nurses from several agencies who have had to choose between an aide quitting, or discharging a case to serve how many others. I don't want to get too nuts on the aides, but I have decided the first inservice is on ethics and behavior management!!
  11. by   Jenny P
    Wow, Hoolihan, you have your hands full! As someone who did county health nursing 30 years ago (yeah, I know, that was in the dark ages; but we did have chucks back then although no adult disposable diapers), I truely can sympathize with you. You are the one getting the shaft here; both you and the patient.
    Can you appeal to her nursing background? Is there a way you can tap into her nursing memories and speak to her as a peer? Remind her of her basic rights as a patient? And of your duty as nurses to aid her? To maintain a clean healthy environment for her to live in and for you to work in? It really is sad that no one else has been honest with this disabled nurse. Is there no family around? What about friends or members of her congregation? I'm sure that if the situation is as bad as you've written, many people would have stopped seeing her; but surely there is someone in the world who cares about this woman.
    The other suggestion I have is that even though a walker doesn't work for her and she is using a wobbly rubbermaid drawer cart, can you find a 3 shelf metal cart with bigger wheels with brakes for her? Those plastic carts aren't sturdy enough and only encourage spills. Hey, I believe that the assistive device that is working for the patient should be used; not what someone else says is right for you.
  12. by   Jenny P
    Back to the main topic of lying; I forgot to mention in my long and lengthy posting the other night one of the reasons why I learned not to tell my kids the whole truth.
    When my daughter was in 2nd or 3rd grade, they were getting the D.A.R.E. program through the small parochial school (of which I was vp of the PTA assoc. at the time). She asked me if I'd ever used drugs, and I was honest and told her that I'd tried pot once but had had a bad reaction to it (it was the truth). So she goes to school the next day and tells the teacher, the class AND the principal that HER MOMMY USES DRUGS! Talk about embarrassing! I had to tell everyone that I'd tried only pot once WHEN I WAS YOUNG! That definitely made me tell only part truths and white lies to the kids after that.
  13. by   nurs4kids
    I will NOT tell a lie, absolutely refuse to lie.
    I will never lie to protect myself. I will not lie to protect someone who is wrong. I will not lie to spare your feelings, but I will question you to make sure you want my honest opinion (most people who know me KNOW that's all they will get, so they don't ask if they don't want the truth).

    I'm sorry, there is NO good reason to lie. You don't lie to spare someone's feelings. "How do I look today?" If you look like sheit, you usually know it, why should I lie? If you happen not to know, then perhaps you need the truth.

    Absolutely refuse to lie professionally AND personally....buttttt, that may change when my children get old enough to ask me those "did/have you ever" questions
    Last edit by nurs4kids on Oct 29, '01
  14. by   cmggriff
    To all you ladies who admire the truth at all costs,
    What would you recommend a husband anser to his wife when asked "Do these pants make me look fat?" Gary

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