25 More Secrets Your Nurse Won’t Tell You

Nurses Secrets© Ablestock.com/Thinkstock

1. “You might think that all the doctors who see you talk to each other, but they often don’t. That’s a problem because physicians sometimes disagree. The more you can keep track of different doctors’ opinions—and communicate them—the better off you’ll be.” –A nurse in Pennsylvania

2. “Don’t show up for a scheduled hospital admission at 12:30 p.m. and expect lunch. We’re not a hotel with room service and we can’t always turn around requests that quickly. Eat before you come, unless the doctor tells you not to.” –Theresa Brown, RN, an oncology nurse and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between
3. “To get a faster diagnosis, know your symptoms and what makes them worse. If you’re having chest pains, is it worse when you take a deep breath? What about when you press on your chest?” –Nancy Beck, RN, a nurse at a Missouri hospital
4. “If you’re diabetic and need to check your glucose frequently, don’t buy a glucometer—the gadget that measures your blood sugar. Some manufacturers will give you one for free if you know to ask, because they make more money on the test strips than they do on the machines. Just make sure your insurance plan covers the test strips for the glucometer you choose. If you’re paying out of pocket, check the price of the strips, not just the device.” –Theresa Tomeo, RN, a nurse at the Beth Abraham Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Queens, New York

5. “For some reason, when I ask ‘Are you having pain?’ a lot of patients say no, even if they are. But I’ve found that if I say, ‘Are you uncomfortable?’ people are much more likely to say yes. Please tell us if you’re in pain. We have all sorts of medications we can use to help you.”–Mary Pat Aust, RN, clinical practice specialist at American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in Aliso Viejo, California

6. “When someone you love is dying, you can never say ‘I love you’ too much.” –Barbara Dehn, RN, a women’s health nurse practitioner in Silicon Valley who blogs at nursebarb.com.

7. “I once had a patient who had been in ICU for six months. He was totally withdrawn—wouldn’t look at us, talk to us, or even open his eyes. One day, the doctor said, ‘Why don’t you take him outside?’ We were thinking, ‘Man, that’s a lot of work,’ but of course we said okay. We rolled his bed out the door, thinking what a waste of time it was. Well, the wind was on his face, he could hear the birds, and suddenly he opened his eyes and talked to his wife for the first time in months. That was an incredible day.” Gina Rybolt, RN, an intensive care nurse in California who blogs at codeblog.com
8. “One of the things people hate most about having a colonoscopy is drinking the solution that triggers diarrhea to clean you out. But if you mix the prep the day before and place it in the fridge, it will be a lot easier to get down.” –Theresa Tomeo, RN, a nurse at the Beth Abraham Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Queens, New York

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9. “We know you hate being woken up, but we have to check your vital signs every four hours. It’s not the Hilton, it’s a hospital. And that’s hospital policy.” –A nurse in St. Petersburg, Florida

10. “You might think you’re taking all of your pills, but a lot of you are missing one or two or all of your pills on a given day. Use a weekly pill planner.” –Theresa Tomeo, RN, a nurse at the Beth Abraham Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Queens, New York

11. “Some doctors tell people not to smoke, then sneak a cigarette outside.” –Karon White Gibson, RN, producer-host of Outspoken with Karon, a Chicago cable TV show.

12. “When someone you care about is in the hospital and you call in for information, sometimes it’s not a good time for me to have a 10-minute conversation. Ask me first if I can call you back. That way, I can talk to you after I’ve collected my thoughts—and when I’m not thinking about another patient who’s throwing up.” –Theresa Brown, RN, an oncology nurse and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between.

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