14 Things I Wish My Patients Knew

My job would be so much easier if my patients were aware of these 14 facts…

1. Medications come in different dosages. You might take one pill at home, but get two at the hospital. That does not necessarily mean anything’s wrong.  I will reassure you that you are taking the right med, especially if it’s different than what you take at home.

2. Medications also come in different colors. Your green pill might not be the same as our green pill. But don't worry, we have checked and double checked and are here to make sure you get the right medication.

3. Yes, the blood pressure cuff gets tight, but it doesn’t last long.

4. Nurses are not now, have never been and never will be sex workers. I don’t know where the “nurses are easy” came from, but it stops here.

5. I have several patients to care for.  You are no more or no less important, and I will tend to you asap.

6. Doctors get here when they get here.  They may have an emergency, surgery that lasts longer than thought, but they will be here. Have your questions ready for them so they can help you and then get to their next patient as quickly as possible.

7. Nothing in the hospital is ever quick or easy but we are trying our best.

8. The business office handles all insurance and costs.  I have nothing to do with the cost of your insurance or the prices you’ll be charged for things in the hospital.

9. When I get really calm and cheerful, something horrible is NOT about to happen.

10. If you pretend to have chest pain or a seizure just to get my attention, you’ll get it. But not how you want it.

11. Some of the things we do to you may be unpleasant, but are necessary. We do what we need to do to find out what’s wrong and make you better.

12. If you leave AMA, your insurance won’t pay, but you will have to.

13. I’ve seen whatever that is before, enough times that it’s no longer a shock. No need to be embarrassed.

14. It may sting or hurt for a little while, not long. Know that I will treat you the way I want to be treated or like I would try to treat a member of my family.

What would you add to the list?


  1. The AMA rule is not always correct, Insurances do pay. It is frustrating when patients leave AMA, but it is their choice and we shouldn’t scare them into staying becuase of misinformation about their bill.
    I have been a nurse for 21 years and you may wish your patients knew these things, but most come to us truly sick and making sure the nurse has a good shift is not their top priority. I do agree it can be a hassel to answer questions for the 10th time, but when you’re a nurse you take care of people at their most vulnerable time. We do a job for 12 hrs and go home (most of us-healthy human beings) If explaining a medication or when the Dr is coming to a patient is the worst part of your day, be thankful.

  2. Patients need to know that at the end of the shift and the beginning of the shift nurses are in report. This is not the time to be asking for items that could have been taking care of during the 12 hours during the shift. This 30 minutes is for off coming shift to report on all of their patients to the new shift coming on. Please if you need anything from the license nurse, let them know prior to the shift ending. Some hospitals have 8 hour shifts while others have 12 hour shifts. Please be aware of these report hours so your needs can be taking care. Thank-you.

  3. MOST of the time, about 60% of the time these are true HOWEVER when I was being “discharged” from my stay at the hospital from having my blood clot, one of my medicines I was on PRIOR to the stay, the House Dr. FAILED to write down the correct dosage and lo and behold I HAD TO CORRECT THE NURSES’ STATION AND MAKE THEM CALL HIM AND GET IT CHANGED BEFORE I WALKED OUT! TOTALLY pissed me off! They also tried to confuse me while I was there about my Diabetes med and tried to put me on Insulin when I didn’t need to be! I will NEVER go to that DAMNED hospital ever again! Because of that, I ended up firing 2 of my Drs. because it got back to them and when I did find my now Endocrinologist, she took one look at my CBC and exclaimed “OH! We need to do a complete thyroid panel on you! When you’re HYPO – low – it makes you insulin resistant!” MAKE SURE YOUR DRS. KNOW WHAT THE HELL THEY’RE DOING!

  4. Jones, please don’t be a troll.

    Inflammatory, belittling, or judgmental comments about others on a nurse support site is not appreciated–at least not by this nurse.

    People victimized by their condition and/or addiction say and do horrendous things to get narcotics. It has been the one thing everyone in the nurse profession has agreed upon, because it is truly the worst man-made epidemic to date. Chronic pain patients suffer because of all the cries of wolf, and many nurses feel powerless to use nurse judgment for anything.

    TO LORA– we may not be physicians, but we ARE diagnosticians. We use nursing science–our own esoteric body of ethics, theory, and scientific evidence-based practices to make nurse diagnoses.

  5. Make a list of all your current medications with dosages and how often you take them and keep it in your wallet. Any time you go to a healthcare professional for any reason they will ask about this. Be sure to include any allergies to medicines or food that you may have.

    • Yep, I actually MAKE blood clots, wear a medical bracelet for that plus my NIDDM Type II Diab, Chol, BP, Angina, allergies – Epi-pen in purse, I’m highly anaphylactic allergic to Percocet, Liquid codeine and wasp stings, I make Blood clots and I have a typed list of all my meds, dosages, Drs, phone numbers, medical quirks, ie: Fybromyalgia, CFS, I MAKE blood clots, etc. and I also have on my keychain an Thumbdrive USB with same info on it. I give it to any new Dr. for their files and any time I have to go to tests, etc.

  6. I wish they knew their medications, they come and tell me the colors and then get mad at me because I don’t know what it is. They don’t know what they are taking and they don’t care. They don’t know why they are taking the medications and don’t care. They just tell me, “I just take them” They don’t get their labs drawn then come in for follow up and get mad because they didn’t get the labs done and that was the whole purpose of the visit. And mostly, they DEMAND narcotics, they cry, scream and make a show in the lobby, especially the ones who have been kicked out of pain management for having illegal drugs in their system. They all tell me the same story, “the drug test was wrong, I don’t do cocaine or THC.” They cry, beg and plead, it is a terrible part of my job. They will not take any responsibility for their own health care. They want 2 or 3 different procedures done every visit, they want to go over all 22 diagnoses too, but they won’t get their labs done or diagnostics, they just want controlled substances. Then when they do get their labs done, and X-rays and MRI’s, CT’s, Ultrasounds, everything is normal, but they will still tell you they are in very severe pain, but won’t go to pain management, won’t go to a mental health professional, they only want the strongest pain medication they can get. Over 2/3 of my patients are nothing but drug seekers. They even lie about their medical diagnoses, they will tell me that they have seizures, diabetes, herniated lumbar disc, and even Hepatitis. When I ask them why, they tell me because they thought they could get narcotics or special treatment!

  7. I spent time on the other side this weekend in a top-notch Boston ED after my mom suffered a subdural hematoma. Here’s my list of things I wish nurses would remember:

    1. Your suddenly powerless patient looks to you for signs he or she is safe. Tell them they’re safe. Even if you’re busy, tell them you will keep them as well as can be expected.
    2. Little things go a long way. Bring the ice chips. Offer a hot cloth or blanket. It takes seconds to make a patient feel human again.
    3. Remember your patients hear everything you’re saying. Not comforting to hear you go on and on about your new sneakers with your peers, or the “turkey bone lady” on her way to the OR. Your patients are sick, not deaf (unless they are).
    4. Say what you’re doing before you do it. Powerless=Terrified
    5. Make eye contact. My mom offered gratitude to everyone who helped her. That was about 20 people. I think maybe 4 made eye contact with her as she spoke.
    6. If you can’t “stop” to care, even for a split second, get the hell out of the profession. Or find a setting where you can because really, you are useless as a nurse otherwise. If we’re not about caring, what are we about?
    7. Some patients will always be inappropriate. Some are jerks, some are scared jerks, some are senile. Your job is to set limits with your mad authorotative skills. When you get older, they’ll all stop hitting on you anyway so there’s a light at the end of that tunnel.
    8. Remember when friends show you their rashes, or weird bumps, it’s because they trust you with their fear. It is an honor they are bestowing on you. Suck it up and offer help.
    9. Someone needs to invent soundproof divider curtains. Then you can talk as loud as you want at 2 am because you’re wide awake on your natural cycle, unlike the exhausted families around you.
    10. We will remember you long after you’ve forgotten us.

    • Thank you! When my mother back in ’97 suddenly had white stool, I met my husband with her at the ER. Turned out our neighbor THANK GOD was on duty and was assigned to her and took one look at her and said “Hmm I think we need to look at her gall bladder, she’s awfully yellow!” Turned out, she had BOTH pancreatitis AND Gall bladder disease! Oh yeah! THEN after the surgery for the gall bladder extraction, she got post-op Pneumonia and the same week my now ex-husband had a severe attack of kidney stones and I had to rush him to the same ER doubled over in tremendous pain with a pillow on his stomach and when we arrived they had to pump morphine into him he was in so much pain, THEN we had him in the ER, my Mother up on the 4th floor, or either the 5th floor and to top that – they had a shooter with a knife event in the ER and had to lock down the ER so there I was with him, I couldn’t even go check on my Mother! And also thank God they were our neighbors because she’s a nurse and her husband is an EMT/Fireman. So our two children stayed with them for a solid week while I practically lived at the hospital til he came home. They never were able to loosen the kidney stone but apparently it lodged in his kidney for years until just recently when he underwent surgery to get it out – with his new wife. Mom’s doing great now at 87 and kicking us all into the grave! I’m on Judge ordered SS Disability and I have to take 9 meds a day, one twice a day for Type II Diab and she only takes 2! LOL

  8. We are not diagnosticians. We are information gatherers, we are assessors, we are documenters, we are order carrier outters.
    When you are my friend or we meet and you find out I am a nurse, please do not show me your rash and ask me to treat it….again see the comments above….I can see it and describe, even write it down for you, I can tell you to go to the Dr., but I cannot diagnosis it’s cause or name or treatment.
    We do not want to see you nekkid anymore than you want to show us your nekkid bits. So lets just work together to get this embarrassing thing over with.
    I do care deeply about you and all aspects of your life….however I have other patients…I have to divide my time…and if I am with one more than you it is because they are in greater need (sicker).
    I will suggest places you might find support, or suggest a good book on the topic, but I cannot, no matter how much I care, stay in your room while you tell me your health history from day one and how it impacted every relationship in your life, or your entire family tree’s health history, or how you wished you had done some thing differently with your life, or how awful your spouse is….or selfish your sister is, or hear your views on what’s wrong with the world today and how you would fix it. I know part of this is you are bored and lonely in the hospital, and like I said before, I do care, deeply…..I just can’t “stop” to care.
    Lastly, no nurse I know finds the “are you a naughty nurse” question….and none of us wear fishnet stockings and short nurse dresses with the top buttons all undone. Get rid of that fantasy.


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