Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dear Patients:

Note: This letter is HIPAA-friendly; no patient rights are being violated. Trust me, I know.

As you may have noticed, I have a difficult time working with you all sometimes...well, most of the time. I have discovered that I am in no way meant to be a nurse, or a nurse aid, but because the economy is still crap I have to take whatever job I can get. That being said, my current job is working with you all. In order to preserve what little sanity I have left, I have a few requests that I guarantee will make my job more pleasant and your stay at the hospital more restful, more safe, and will help your stay go by a little quicker.

-If you can raise your arm to scratch at your head, you can raise that same arm when I need to put the blood pressure cuff on. I should not have to lift your 20 pound arm all by myself. Whining that me lifting that arm hurts means nothing to me when 5 seconds before you were lifting it yourself anyways.

-If you can get up to go to the bathroom, eat your meals unassisted, and wheel yourself to the curb to smoke, you can help give yourself a bath. Lying there like a dead fish and expecting me to pick up and hold all of your heavy extremities is not only bad for my back, but will result in me resenting you and being rougher than necessary.

-No, I will not "go kill" your husband/boyfriend/fiancee/lover just because you're crazy and delusional. Quit asking me and quit getting mad because I say no.

-I am not paid to raise the head of your bed, change your TV channel, or dial a number on your phone simply because you are too lazy to do it yourself. I am paid to take care of you and help you get better in order to go home. I realize the hardwood flooring and flat screen TV's in your room may lead you to believe otherwise, but it's just a front. Nurse aid doesn't equal servant.

-I am required to take your vital signs every 4 hours. It is my job. I understand that it is hard to get sleep in the hospital and that being woken at 3am is unpleasant. However, your vitals are going to get taken no matter what kind of fit you throw, because I have to do my job. Your orneriness is not worth losing my job. And by the way, if you can wake up enough to yell at me, you're awake enough to let me do my job.

-If I offer to help you with a bath once, you can say no. If I ask twice, it's because you stink. Go with it.

-You have the right to refuse treatments including those silly tights, SCD's, and foot pumps. However, they're there to prevent blood clots so if you get one after refusing, I hope one day you realize it was your fault., that is, if the clot doesn't go straight to your lungs first.

-Surgery is painful. Having your hip popped out of the joint while your entire body is strapped to a table for hours is really painful. I know you're in pain. I have no pain tolerance myself. However, if you ELECTED to have an orthopedic surgery, you have to have known it would hurt. Yelling at me, throwing things at me, and threatening me because you're in pain will just make me avoid you. And I can avoid you because I'm NOT the nurse with your pain meds.

-If you refuse to let me in your room after 9pm to do my job, I refuse to come help you when you hit that call bell after 9pm.

-If you have a bowel movement, and can feel it, please warn me before I go down south to clean you up. I don't appreciate poo on my arms. I especially don't appreciate poo on my arms considering my salary. Also, laying in poo because you don't want to make the effort to move is not a good decision; urine and poo on your skin for long periods of time cause severe skin breakdown. You only need one hole in your backside, not 4 or 5.

-I am 150 pounds. You are 275. Please stop leaning on me, pulling on me, or expecting me to catch you when you get tired of standing. Believe it or not, massive back injuries aren't under our job description.

-The hospital is never quiet. It may be slightly quieter at night than during the day, but it's still fully staffed, there are patients that need constant care, the phones will be ringing, and the lights outside your room will be on. It's not going to change. Seriously. The quicker you cooperate and get better, the quicker you can get out and go home to sleep in your dark, quiet house. Think about it.

-If you call me to come in and do something, put down the damn phone and let me do what you called me in for. Also, complaining about me and/or the nurses on the phone while I'm standing there is just a really bad idea. We have the catheters, needles, and pain-lowering devices...I don't suggest being THAT tacky and rude.

-If you have 10 different children from 5 different women, all of whom insist on coming to visit you in the hospital and all of whom think they're your wife, need way more help than the fact that you can't pee when your catheter is out.

-Please don't stick your finger in your own butt to try and dislodge poop that isn't even there. That's just wrong, in many different ways.

I can probably think of a few more things I'd love for you to know, but I think this is a good bunch of goals to start with.

Your over-worked, worn-out, underpaid, no BS-tolerating Nurse Aide

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