Taking care of Nurses as Patients. do we fail them?

  1. I recently took care of a nurse who worked in the hospital where she was a patient. I had worked with her before. She was in for asthmatic bronchitis.
    She was admitted on a Tuesday. I had her on Friday, night shift. There was NO patient teaching done. I was very disappointed.

    "Jill" is a smoker. She is 40 years old. She has been smoking 20+ years. Hmmm...I heard one nurse ask her..."What happened"? Duhhhh...

    I talked with Jill about quitting smoking. I asked if she would want to see the smoking cessation counselor. We talked about lifestyle changes. She is also overweight and has a history of htn. She told me she recently had a stress test, and was unable to complete it due to SOb. Another clue missed! She was really stressed, as all her friends smoke, and she sings in a bar, that, of course, is smoky. I provided her with the "Quit Smoking packet" we provide as a teavhing tool.

    I had this happen to myself as a patient, with my first 2 C-sections, over 20 years ago. I was a rehab nurse. I HATED OB when I was in school(and we were there 8 weeks)! No one told me I could get a shower afterwards. I was taking those awful sponge baths at the sink. It wasn't until my 3rd that the nurses encouraged me to get a shower. Even in preparing me for the Section, they did NOT assume I knew everything, for which I was truly grateful.

    Fast forward a few more years. "Anne" was a nurse at our facility. She had had an eating disorder. She was a perfectionist. Never a hair out of place. She had been to the ER more than once for a low K+. Because she was a colleague, she was treated and sent home. She ended up on our floor, her only admission. At this point she was confronted about her disease. She was, of course, greatly upset. She was use to working 2 full time jobs. They wanted her be admitted inpt. She cried, she made promises. Instead of getting inpt help, she went to a partial hospitalization program. She worked parttime. She called her sister one day(an LPN) to come over, as she wasn't feeling right. By the time she got there, her sister was dead. Talk about tragic!

    Has anyone else observed this???
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   jnette
    I dunno... but I'm getting ready to find out next week ! :uhoh21:
  4. by   Tweety
    I try not to treat nurses who are patients any different than any other patient. I always make sure they get proper information and get their questions answered. I do tend to use nurse "lingo" when talking to them. But for me to assume they know what I know about my job and their part in it, is foolish. If it's relavent for us to talk about lifestyle changes I will.

    About the coworker with an eating disorder that's a tough one. I'm not sure how nurse co-workers could have intervened.
  5. by   UnewmeB4
    Quote from Tweety
    I try not to treat nurses who are patients any different than any other patient. I always make sure they get proper information and get their questions answered. I do tend to use nurse "lingo" when talking to them. But for me to assume they know what I know about my job and their part in it, is foolish. If it's relavent for us to talk about lifestyle changes I will.

    About the coworker with an eating disorder that's a tough one. I'm not sure how nurse co-workers could have intervened.
    I was disappointed that she was not given a chance for true treatment of her disorder. All those times in the ER...was just sent home, with no follow up. When she was discharged from our floor, she was to have gone to an inpatient psych unit. Instead, because she was "one of us" they felt bad...and let her slide...and that was the end. It certainly made me more aware of treating the PERSON first, not the NURSE.
  6. by   Tweety
    Quote from UnewmeB4
    I was disappointed that she was not given a chance for true treatment of her disorder. All those times in the ER...was just sent home, with no follow up. When she was discharged from our floor, she was to have gone to an inpatient psych unit. Instead, because she was "one of us" they felt bad...and let her slide...and that was the end. It certainly made me more aware of treating the PERSON first, not the NURSE.

    So true. How sad for her.
  7. by   RNPATL
    Unfortunately, I have to agree with the OP ... that we do not provide nurses with the care they need. I also believe we do the same thing to physicians and other health care professionals we treat.

    My insurance requires that I get treatment at the hopsital I work at. While I can undserstand the principle behind this and the cost savings, I really think this type of policy does a great dis-service to nurses. I am sorry, but I do not want my peers to know all my business. I was admitted to the hopsital early this past January and it was a terribly uncomfortable situation. I was admitted to the floor that I worked on and had a very hard time getting rest because of all the visitors and well-wishers. Now, of course that is nice, but it was terribly annoying as I was very ill and needed to rest.

    In relationship to teaching, we assume that nurses already know the ropes and they do not need the teaching. Perhaps we are intimidated because the patient is a nurse. Regardless, we still need to provide treatment and services necessary to ensure that the patient makes a full recovery and has the information to remain well and develop better health seeking behavior as well as lifestyle changes as may be needed. While it may be tough, we must remember that nurses, physicians and other health care professionals that present as patients need the same type of teaching and care that others receive. Great topic!
  8. by   talaxandra
    I also have to agree, both with the OP and Patrick.
    I think it's not just when nurses/doctors are patients, but also when they're relatives - there seems to often be assumption that they already have all the information they need, even if the presenting issue is unrelated to their own sphere of practice.
    Some years ago we had a prominent staff member admitted with a newly-diagnosed condition (s/he said s/he felt like an idiot for not picking up on the warning signs, but we're just as capable of denial as lay people!). The floor staff were very good at providing education, rather than assuming s/he already knew everything (the patient worked in an area unrelated to the condition); the problem was the constant stream of staff as visitors, all of whom thought the "all visitors must see a nurse before entering" sign didn't apply to them! We had to add "this includes hospital staff!!!" before they got it!

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