How to Be a Good Patient


While I understand this picture of Grumpy Cat is more the patient’s view, I would like to point out the power/authority that a nurse has and that maybe, just maybe, we have some ideas that you know, deep down, are good for you.

I don’t want to be Nurse Kratchet/Ratched. The summer was long and hard to schedule work around class and being cancelled due to low hospital census. I had some delightful patients and good learning experiences. This is a compilation of not-so-great experiences. A rant, if you will. It DOES NOT mean that I do not value a patient’s opinion or experience. It only means that some patients annoyed me with their similarities of crappy attitudes towards those of us lower on the hospital totem pole (the CNA/Student Nurse).

1. Don’t talk or move excessively during vital signs. Health care workers and providers need to listen and watch for various things, such as your breathing. Movements in the arm while taking a blood pressure can make the final pressure appear too high. Your talking and yammering about how this doctor or that nurse from previous experiences is of no concern to me, especially at 3 AM when all I need to do is count how many breath cycles you have in a 30 second time span.

2. Hospitals hate falls. Hate them. We don’t want your stay extended because someone was unable to standby and ensure your safety. That being said, just because you know who you are, where you are and where the bathroom is in your room, does not mean that you are not a fall risk. We don’t put people as a fall risk because we want to imprison them to a bed, it’s because we don’t want you to get injured from your own stupidity or because you tripped over your own IV.

3. Having been a CNA does not mean you know my job or the entirety of the medical field. Taking Psych 101 and Abnormal Psych doesn’t make you a therapist. Giving a meal or a few dollars to a homeless person doesn’t make you a social worker. Answer our questions truthfully, ask questions (write them down when no one is in the room). The person there to take your temperature is not the person who orders your discharge.

4. Don’t complain that your beeping IV hasn’t been taken care of for 3 hours when I can prove by the time stamp on a monitor and through the electronic tracking system that I was in your room 45 minutes ago and nothing was abnormal. Also, these situations are when you use the call light.

5. Most units I have observed or worked on are post-operative, and most people are focused on one thing: leaving. As one of my nurse preceptors told me, “All patients need to poop, pee, walk, and eat before they can go home.” The faster you do these things, the faster you go home. Cooperate.

6. Don’t assume we are out to get you or that we intend to forget you. Unless you are an ICU patient or labor and delivery, your nurse has other patients. We might have been answering their questions.

Yes, everyone has their personal horror story or has heard of someone who experienced a series of complications only rivaled by a House episode. We know you don’t like the hospital, and our goal is to get you out of here as fast as possible.

Let the barrage of comments begin…


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cathi Willms
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 15:46:49

    Any time I help (against their wishes) a post-sedated patient from bed to chair I always tell them that if they want to see nurses get instantly grumpy, just have a patient on the floor. Falls happen and a lot of the time it’s the patient’s fault. There, I said it!!



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