Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Why is it so hard for nurses to connect with their patient? I know alot of nurses 'think' they are connecting, but in actuality, until you've been a patient, I think it's hard to understand what the patient is going through. We are so occupied with our lists, our assessments, charting and routines that we don't even take the time out to chill with our patients, to talk to them, understand a fraction of their pain or just even let them know that we in actuality do CARE about them, not as the patient in room 21, but as the PERSON who's sick and needs our TLC.

Recently my hospital got the patient satisfaction scores from their outside company and it was...frankly quite poor. My old hospital in Baltimore was on the ball with customer service, we did we could to make their stay more pleasurable. The CS lady told us that with each patient, if we could identify their one primary need, the one thing that if they had they would be happy we would actually make their stay more pleasant. For some it's a cup of coffee, a back scratch, back massage, warm bath, shower, hair wash, something to read etc. It's usually something very simple.

As I was saying in my last post...patient's do sense our vibe and aura when we come in. And that's really the fine line between a good nurse and a fabulous nurse. Just for a few minutes in your shift, throw your lists and notes into your pocket, sit on the side of the bed and just talk to your patients. This isn't a case management job---we should develop personal connections with each and every patient we come in contact with. I actually have an emphasis when I give change of shift report to talk about my patient's personal life as well.
  1. Room 1: He and his wife have been married for 18 years. She hates looking at blood, but she's at his bedside everyday through his post-op because of their love. They have such a beautiful bond, lots of teasing and a genuine friendship. He thinks he's always right...(even when he isn't!) And Wifey lets him think he's always right even though we know that the women are the brains to the whole marriage operation! She came up to me to let me know she was leaving and asked me to please take good care of her husband. I promised her I would. He wants to pass gas/have a bowel movement so bad so he can go home, not only cos of medical issues but because his copay is $400 a day!
  2. Room 2: She has 2 kids, a boy and a girl, and 6 grandchildren. Her daughter isn't a control freak---she's just genuinely worried and concerned for her mom! Her husband of fifty + years is struggling with her illness and wants her home, because he can't 'live without her.' She wants her hair washed so bad!
  3. Room 3: She's not weird because she doesn't want to view or touch her ailing body. She's sick and feels like her body is failing her. She wants to actually trade in this body for another one. She got bad news today, the cancer has metastasized and when she presses the call bell, it's not to annoy you---it's because she's scared, alone and very afraid. She just wants to know that you are there, and that you care. She loves applesauce, prefers it to regular food and likes her back rubbed.
  4. Room 4: She has been non-compliant with her medication regimen, but that's because she didn't know how serious diabetes was. She's here now to learn everything you can teach her, so that she can go home and live well. She loves boating, gardening and her 20 year old daughter who is even more gorgeous in person than in the picture. Her mother is a feisty lady who is so proud of her offspring, especially her daughter that raised a fantastic daughter as a single mom. And Ms. Patient has a great boyfriend who misses her like crazy, is taking care of her cat even though he's allergic and sends her roses, orchids and lilies every single day. She would give anything for a real shower.
So...what's the one primary need for your patients?

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