Nurses tend to be the unsung heroes in the hospital wards. They are the frontline caregivers who spend the most time caring for patients and their families. This also makes them the first in line to be confronted by frustrated and angry patients, said Nicole Mankowski, a registered nurse and a member of Health Professionals and Allied Employees in New Jersey
But nurses are often the nerve center of hospitals, and they know all the inside information. Business Insider recently chatted to several nurses to get the low down on the things they wish they could tell their patients.
Here, we look at 9 of them:
- Nurses don’t always love the doctors they work with. Patients may not know whether or not their doctor is good or bad, and the nurses can’t tell them — even if they wanted to. That does not mean your nurse won’t make subtle hints, though, according to one. “When we say you have a right to ask for a second opinion, that means I personally wouldn’t let that doctor touch me,” said David, an OR nurse in Arizona.
- Don’t treat a hospital like a hotel. There are patients who treat hospitals like hotels and demand the same treatment they would receive at a guesthouse. That includes expecting nurses to be at their service, one anonymous nurse in Pennsylvania said. “I will be walking down the hallway with blood from another patient and people will really stop me and ask me to bring them new sheets right now.”
- Nurses have to prioritize injuries. While it is frustrating to sit and wait for several hours with a cold or a sore throat before a medical professional can tend to you, the truth is that there are more serious injuries that need immediate attention. Unfortunately this does not always sit well with patients. “I could have another patient that needs me now or else something bad could happen,” said Mayte, a nurse in Iowa. “I’m not brushing off their needs, but it’s not a priority.”
- Nurses also have tight schedules. Patients who show up late for their appointments are making things so much harder for nurses, who are working long hours under immense pressure. “When you show up an hour late, it affects the whole staff,” said Melissa, a nurse for a hospital in Oklahoma.
- Keep to the point. Tight schedules mean that nurses only have a few minutes to get a patient’s entire medical history, which is why it is important for patients to stay on topic and avoid rambling. “We need that info concisely and quickly so we can get it all in the electronic medical record for the rest of the medical team,” said Ann, a nurse from North Carolina. “Patients have a difficult time reporting concisely and accurately their history and medications.”
- Nurses are only human. Nurses have to put up with a lot. From long hours to angry patients and their families to demanding doctors, it is tough to keep it all together. Megan, a nurse from Ohio, said she wished that patients could understand that nurses also had bad days. “I’m tired,” she said. “I haven’t had a break in eight hours, and I’m missing my daughter’s first game tonight. My husband is sick and just lost his job. I am worried about my family. Nurses are people, we have families. I leave my family to care for you. Please be polite.”
- Be polite. It is fairly common for nurses to receive verbal abuse form their patients. However, as one anonymous Pennsylvania nurse pointed out, polite patients tend to receive better treatment.
- Nurses know more than your smartphone. Nurses have spent years in school, working towards receiving their medical degrees but they still get patients who think they know better because of what they read on Google or saw in a medical drama. “Please don’t tell me where to put the IV,” Laura, a registered nurse from Michigan, said. “If I don’t think I can put it where you want, I should not put it there.”
- Don’t yell for a nurse. Most nurses wish their patients would use the call light instead of yelling “nurse” every time they needed something. It is just as irritating when patients “ring the call light 100 times to ask what time it is” said Susan, a nurse in Ohio.