Saturday, April 2, 2011

A question...

As nurses/nursing students, and being people who have some knowledge of a very technical and service oriented field (medicine), do we have some responsibility to act like professionals just simply because we have that knowledge?

For a nurse/nursing student, would we walk into our patient's room and talk about all the worst case scenarios regarding their illness?  An otherwise healthy patient with we jump straight to the risk of bacterial endocarditis?  A patient coming out of we start scaring them about PE's or paralytic ileus?  I mean, as a nurse/nursing student, we know those worst-cases are risks, but would we really go the route of scaring the crap out of our patients just because we can?


There is a reason for my asking...but I'm curious to see what others have to say on this.

Edited to add:  This is not based on anything I have seen happen in a medical setting.  I should have noted that initially.  I also should mention that this question was more to determine if other fields should have their respective professional responsibility...but I used nursing as an example.


  1. Any nurse who scares their patients like that is a crappy nurse(IMO). Part of your job is to reassure and help prevent unnecessary stress. If they are at risk for a PE educate them and tell them Lovenox is to prevent clots.
    Most docs try their hardest to avoid scaring their patients, and who is to say what the worst-case scenarios are?

    Although, there may be frequent flyers who need a little more persuasion, but there are usually some underlying issues that need to be addressed and scare tactics are not appropriate.

    Curious why the question, something you saw with an instructor, nurse, student or doctor?

    Sorry to ramble but this reminded me of nurses I have seen.

  2. I dealt with this very question, in regards to a visitor asking about a patient's condition. I struggled with it. I didn't want to get worst-case on him, but I didn't want to lie, and then there was the whole thing about sharing patient information with visitors.... Definitely a good thing to think of ahead of time.

  3. I have never found fear to be a huge motivator for my patients. I think that if they see that you are actually concerned about them and their outcomes, they are much more likely to comply with therapies.

    I think education is key though. Rather than scaring a pateint about PEs["zomg, you're gonna die if you don't do xyz!!!1!!1"]; explain that the SCDs, TED hose, Lovenox, and early ambulation after surgery is designed to minimize/prevent such a thing from happening. It isn't so much of a fear tactic then.

  4. Aren't we as nursing students expected to develop trust with our patients? Why pull the fear card first or every time? Shouldn't it be used for serious occasions only?

  5. Did we answer the question right?