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Things You Can Learn From A Bad Nurse

My husband had a screening colonoscopy last Friday.  His nurse in the recovery is the only one I had issues with.  I, not my husband.

All went well, but let me tell you he is not an ePatient Dave.  He did not read his instructions about when to quit eating and the prep.  I did.  I then reminded him along the way:  “Only clear liquids today.”  “You must take the Ducolax at 3 pm.  Do you want me to text you a reminder?”

Sometimes the instructions we give patients are clear, but not always read.

The staff at the front desk were very kind and organized.  Calls had been made the day before and I had insured the insurance information they had was correct.   I did not tell anyone I was a doctor.  I’m not sure if my husband did later or not.


When I was called back by the nurse, she mispronounced my name calling me Rhonda (which I forgave easily).  She did not introduce herself to me.

As we entered the recovery area, she did not take me to my husband and assure me he was okay.  She took me to the desk and abruptly said, “You need to sign this.”

No explanation of what “this” was, so I replied, “What is it I am signing?  I don’t sign anything until I have read it.”

She then said, “It’s the discharge instructions.  He’s already been given them.”

Note she had not reviewed them with me.  I would be the caregiver.  Note also that I had no way of knowing if she had reviewed them with my husband (who is not an engaged ePatient Dave) prior to sedation or in his current state of post-sedation fogginess.

She said, “Sign it when you’ve read them then” and quickly moved on to some other task.  I felt like a box that was simply being checked off.

I reviewed them, signed it, and moved over to my husband’s bedside.

The nurse with no name came by soon after and told him it was time to get up and go to the bathroom.  She led him over and said to me, “You can go to the bathroom with him.”

Me, “Why would I want to go to the bathroom with him?”

Her, “Well, you don’t have to.”  [I think she found me difficult and perhaps uncaring.]

She left him alone in the bathroom with his clothes.  After standing there for about five minutes, I knocked on the door and entered.  “Are you okay?”  He was dressed, but swayed as he bent over to try to put his boot on.

Me to my husband, “You can sit in this other area where we are to wait on your doctor and put your boots on.  Here let me help you.”

In hindsight, I think she meant for me to help him get dressed in the bathroom, not to watch him actually use the bathroom.


Reminders to myself

1.  Check names.

2.  Always introduce myself.

3.  Slow down and tell patients/family what is going on and why.

4.  Patients and caregivers need to be given the instructions.

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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