12 Things Nurses Wished Patients Understood

It’s no secret that as a healthcare professional there are a few things that we wished patients understood. If you’re a patient reading this or a nurse looking to relate, we’ve created a list of 12 things nurses wished patients understood.

In the ER, You’re Seen in Order of How Sick You Are

Are you tired of waiting for hours? It’s not always because of how busy they are. It’s most commonly because you’re not as sick as the other patients that come in before and after you. When you’re considering going to the ER, first ask yourself, is this an emergency? Is something wrong that a clinic can’t handle?

If so, you’ll likely be seen sooner (and cheaper) than if you are seen in an emergency room. Can’t wait? Convinced, it’s something that requires an MRI or other procedure that can’t be done in an urgent care? Be prepared to wait, and be patient—those seen before you have more critical conditions.

Your Call Light Should Be Used Only When Truly Needed

You call light is there when you need someone immediately. In excruciating pain? Need to use the restroom and can’t wait any longer? Experiencing symptoms and have been told to call to record your vitals etc. while you have an episode? In these cases, the call light should be used. However, call lights are often overused.

Many patients assume that when their team isn’t in their room, they sit in the nurse’s station or break room having fun. However, many nurses go entire shifts without using the restroom once because the moment they walk into one room, another call light goes off in another.

Hospitals Are Cold For a Reason

Yes, you’ve heard that right. Hospitals are cold for a reason. Cold temperatures help kill bacteria. That’s why rather than turning on the heater, they give you warm blankets out of one.

Nursing Staff Often Sacrifices Family Time For Work

Working a 12-hour shift means being gone before kids head to school, and coming home often after they’ve had dinner. Additionally, because hospitals are open 24 hours a day, this means there’s never a day off.

Working in the medical field also means that there’s no such thing as a true “off day” you have an obligation to come in if they are understaffed due to a high census or someone calling in sick. Additionally, nurses are required to work a certain number of holidays each year.

Pet Names Are Never Okay

Address your team by their names unless they have told you otherwise. Hun, sweetie, babe, beautiful, girl, miss, etc. is never okay. Many hospitals have implemented care boards where they have your complete care teams information on the wall across from the patient’s bed – there is no excuse for addressing your team by anything less than their name.

It’s Harder to Find a Vein When You’re Dehydrated

Hate getting stuck with a needle? It’s much harder to find a vein when you’re dehydrated. It, more often than not, has nothing to do with a nurse’s skill set. Don’t want to get poked several times? Drink two bottles of water before your blood draws.

Supplements Should be Listed When You Give Your Medications

Supplements must be included in your list when you disclose your medications. It’s essential to keep this list handy along with the doses as supplements can cause side effects or interact with other drugs.

Nurses Love When Patients Come Back or Send Cards After Discharge

Patients are never just patients to their healthcare team. Nurses care about how their patients are doing after discharge. Whether you stop in just to say hello, write a card or send a thank you – following up aftercare is always encouraged.

Don’t Talk When Your Vitals Are Taken

We don’t want to be rude, but vitals need to be taken when you’re relaxed and not talking. It’s also hard to hear or count as a vital part of taking your vitals, which can be hard or impossible when someone is speaking. Additionally, it’s important to make sure your legs are uncrossed.

Always Feel Free to Ask Questions

It’s your right to be informed. Also, it’s important that you fully understand your care plan. The best time to ask questions is when your nurse is in the room doing her rounds.

We go Through a Lot

Does your nurse seem off? There’s a lot that nurses go through during a 12-hour shift. Codes get called, patients get lost, patients crash and recover, lives are saved, doctors talk down to us, and more.

We Would Love to Stay and Talk But Often Can’t

Being in a hospital can be lonely. We get it. We would love to stay and talk, and sometimes we can. But when we say or seem like we need to go, please understand we aren’t rushing off to head to the breakroom, nurses have to cut conversations short to make sure their other patients are taken care of.

What are some things you wish your patients knew? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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