It’s July and the temperatures are climbing. A nurse colleague in Tucson, Arizona reports that today, outside of her office, it’s 108 degrees. Walking outside to go to lunch in Philly you’ll be hit with stifling humidity. So it’s no surprise that this episode of The Flame is lighthearted. After all, it’s the summer and we want to keep things cool.
Just as there are with many professions and many jobs, there are universal truths to nursing. Situations and experiences that nurses find themselves in that lay people don’t get the joy or the frustration of being in first-hand.
Ask any nurse, then, about what their pet peeves are and you will likely be met with a variety of answers.
We have a lot of nurses at Guardian Nurses, many of them with LOTS of years of nursing under their caps. So for this July issue of The Flame we asked a few of them to share THEIR pet peeves.
— Betty Long, RN, MHA, President/CEO, Guardian Nurses Health Advocates
Do Nurses Have Pet Peeves? (Yes.)
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Here at Guardian Nurses, one of our Fundamentals is “Keep Things Fun.” We appreciate laughter and encourage our colleagues to share funny stories or jokes on our daily operations’ calls. We believe that humor, even in healthcare, is essential to the success of any organization.
As we did in April, when we shared humorous anecdotes from our colleagues, this issue we asked our nursing colleagues to share their pet peeves.
- Patients will come to the ER reporting that they have a fever. Or even worse, that their child has a fever. When the nurse asks “Did you take anything for the fever? Tylenol? Anything?” there are parents and patients who will respond, “Oh no, I didn’t want to take anything until you saw how high the fever is.” ER nurses want you to know that they believe you! Please, take the medicine!
- Nurses will call their home care patients to check in with them and make sure they’re doing OK. Many times, patients will answer their phones while they are in the bathroom. Since they are ‘indisposed,’ they will say, “Can you hang on for a minute?” and then forget to press the mute button on their phone. You can imagine the noises that are coming through the phone. Patients will often apologize and explain that they didn’t want to miss the call, but there are some things you just don’t want to hear.
- Patients who report “I have an allergy to Tylenol and Motrin. Percocet works.” If Percocet work, you don’t have an allergy to Tylenol. Percocet is 90% Tylenol — plus the ‘good stuff.’ The good stuff doesn’t cancel the Tylenol, it just makes it better.
- Patients who report “I don’t have any medical problems” and then hand their nurse a list of 15 medications that they take every day. Hmmm.
- People — any people, even our parents — who argue with a nurse that a fracture ‘is not as bad as a break.’ For those of you who don’t know, they are the same.
- Patients who give their nurse ‘an earful’ of complaints and then, when the doctor comes in to see them and asks them how they’re doing, they say “I’m good” and say nothing at all.
- Surgeons, especially orthopedic surgeons, who do not proactively advise patients that they’ll need to start some bowel regimen (like Miralax) before surgery so that when they’re taking the post-op pain medication they don’t get constipated.
- Patients who get annoyed when they are asked questions by multiple healthcare staff. They say things like, “Can’t you just check your system? Or when their nurse asks their name, they’ll say, “I just told you. Do you have to ask again?” Yes, we know it’s repetitive and annoying, but it’s literally our job to make sure that you get the right medication — every single time.
- Nurses in procedure rooms like the cardiac cath lab, the GI suite, and radiology, are diligent to share pre-procedure instructions — like ‘Nothing to Eat or Drink after midnight.’ Patients sometimes arrive with their coffee in hand and say, “It’s just coffee!” Nothing means nothing.
- When family and friends (and sometimes neighbors) send pictures via text of a body rash and ask “What is this? Is it contagious? You’re a nurse, I thought you’d know how to treat it.”
Healthcare is a troubled place these days. Lots of staffing shortages; lots of wait times for procedures and appointments. We hope that you don’t have to go to an Emergency Room for anything or even have reason to ‘phone a nurse friend’ but if you do, please be kind to your care provider.