50 Secrets Your Nurse Wont Tell You | Reader's Digest

50 Secrets Your Nurse Won’t Tell You

What really happens in the bedrooms and halls of our hospitals? Find out from the experts. Here, nurses shed light on the secrets only a nurse would know.

By Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest, | November 2011
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    Dirty Little Secrets

    1. "We're not going to tell you your doctor is incompetent, but if I say, 'You have the right to a second opinion,' that can be code for 'I don't like your doctor' or 'I don't trust your doctor.'" — Linda Bell, RN, clinical practice specialist at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in Aliso Viejo, California 2. "When a patient is terminally ill, sometimes the doctor won't order enough pain medication. If the patient is suffering, we'll sometimes give more than what the doctor said and ask him later to change the order. People will probably howl now that I've said it out loud, but you have to take care of your patient." — A longtime nurse in Texas 

    3. "Feel free to tell us about your personal life, but know that we're here for 12 hours with nothing to talk about. So the stuff you tell us will probably get repeated." — A nurse in St. Petersburg, Florida 4. "A lot of my patients are incontinent, and I'm supposed to just use a wet washcloth to clean them. But if it's a patient who's been really nice and appreciative, I'll go all the way to intensive care to get some of the heated wet wipes, which are a lot more gentle. Somebody who's constantly yelling at me? I just use the washcloth." — A nurse in St. Petersburg, Florida

    What We're Really Thinking

    5. "I've had people blow out arteries in front of me, where I know the patient could bleed to death within minutes. I've had people with brains literally coming out of their head. No matter how worried I am, I'll say calmly, 'Hmmm, let me give the doctor a call and have him come look at that.'" — A longtime nurse in Texas 6. "I'd never tell a patient that he's a moron for waiting a week for his stroke symptoms to improve before coming to the hospital. Although I'd like to. Especially if his wife then complains that we're not doing anything for the guy." — A longtime nurse who blogs at head-nurse.blogspot.com

    7. "If you're happily texting and laughing with your friends until the second you spot me walking into your room, I'm not going to believe that your pain is a ten out of ten." — A nurse in New York City

    8. "When you tell me how much you drink or smoke
    or how often you do drugs, I automatically double or triple it." — A longtime nurse in Texas

    9. "Your life is in our hands — literally. We question physicians' orders more often than you might think. Some of the mistakes I've headed off: a physician who forgot to order a medication that the patient was taking at home, a doctor who ordered the incorrect diet for a diabetic, and one who tried to perform a treatment on the wrong patient." — A nurse from Pennsylvania

    10. "These days, you can't get admitted unless you're really sick,
    and you'll probably get sent home before you're really ready. So we don't get any easy ones anymore." — Kathy Stephens Williams, RN, staff development educator for critical care at St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri

    11. "People have no idea of the amount of red tape and charting we have to deal with every day. We spend hours at the computer just clicking boxes. They tell us, 'If it wasn't charted, it didn't happen.' So I always chart with a jury in the back of my mind." — An intensive-care nurse in California
    12. "Despite nurses' best efforts, hospitals are still filthy and full of drug-resistant germs.
    I don't even bring my shoes into the house when I get home." — Gina, a nurse who blogs at codeblog.com

    13. "The No. 1 thing you should never say to me: 'You're too smart to be a nurse.' I went to nursing school because I wanted to be a nurse, not because I wanted to be a doctor and didn't make it." — A longtime nurse in Texas
    14. "Grey's Anatomy? We watch it and laugh. Ninety percent of the things doctors do on the show are things that nurses do in real life. Plus, there's no time to sit in patients' rooms like that." — Kathy Stephens Williams, RN

    15. "The sicker you are, the less you complain. I'll have a dying patient with horrible chest pain who says nothing, because he doesn't want to bother me. But the guy with the infected toe — he can't leave me alone." — An intensive-care nurse in California 16. "No matter how many times you use your call light, even if it's every ten minutes, I will come into your room with a smile. However, if you don't really need help, I will go back to the nurses' station and complain, and this may affect how the nurses on the next shift take care of you." — A cardiac nurse in San Jose, California 17. "When your provider asks for a list of the medications you're taking, make sure you include over-the-counter drugs and herbals. People think that if an herb is 'all natural' and 'organic,' it's not a medication. But that's not true. Herbals can interact with other medications and can cause serious complications." — Kristin Baird, RN, a health-care consultant in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

    18. "This is a hospital, not a hotel. I'm sorry the food isn't the best, and no, your boyfriend can't sleep in the bed with you." — A nurse in New York City 19. "I know you asked for mashed potatoes, but that sound you hear is my other patient’s ventilator going off." — A nurse in New York City

    What We Lie About

    20. "If you ask me if your biopsy results have come back yet, I may say no even if they have, because the doctor is really the best person to tell you. He can answer all your questions." — Gina, a nurse who blogs at codeblog.com 21. "When you ask me, 'Have you ever done this before?' I'll always say yes. Even if I haven’t." — A nurse in New York City

    What Hurts Our Feelings

    22. "In my first nursing job, some of the more senior nurses on the floor refused to help me when I really needed it, and they corrected my inevitable mistakes loudly and in public. It's a very stressful job, so we take it out on each other." — Theresa Brown, RN, an oncology nurse and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between 23. "It can be intimidating when you see a physician who is known for being a real ogre make a mistake. Yes, you want to protect your patient, but there's always a worry: Am I asking for a verbal slap in the face?" — Linda Bell, RN 24. "Every nurse has had a doctor blame her in front of a patient for something that is not her fault. They're basically telling the patient, 'You can't trust your nurse.'" —Theresa Brown, RN

    What We Love

    25. "If you have a really great nurse, a note to her nurse manager that says 'So-and-so was exceptional for this reason' will go a long way. Those things come out in her evaluation — it's huge." — Linda Bell, RN

    26. "If you've been a patient in a unit for a long time,
    come back and visit. We'll remember you, and we'd love to see you healthy." — An intensive-care nurse in California


    27. "I once took care of a child who had been in a coma for more than a week. The odds that he would wake up were declining, but I had read that the sense of smell was the last thing to go. So I told his mom, 'Put your perfume on a diaper and hold it up by his nose to see if it will trigger something.' The child woke up three hours later. It was probably a coincidence, but it was one of my best moments as a nurse." — Barbara Dehn, RN, a nurse-practitioner in Silicon Valley who blogs at nursebarb.com

    How to Get Great Care

    28. "Now that medical records are computerized, a lot of nurses or doctors read the screen while you're trying to talk to them. If you feel like you're not being heard, say, 'I need your undivided attention for a moment.'" — Kristin Baird, RN 29. "Never talk to a nurse while she's getting your medications ready. The more conversation there is, the more potential there is for error." — Linda Bell, RN 30. "Some jobs are physically demanding. Some are mentally demanding. Some are emotionally demanding. Nursing is all three. If you have a problem with a nurse or with your care, ask to speak to the charge nurse (the one who oversees the shift). If it isn't resolved at that level, ask for the hospital supervisor." — Nancy Brown, RN, a longtime nurse in Seattle

    31. "If the person drawing your blood misses your vein the first time, ask for someone else. I've seen one person stick someone three times. They need to practice, but it shouldn't be on you!" — Karon White Gibson, RN, producer-host of Outspoken with Karon, a Chicago cable TV show 32. "Never let your pain get out of control. Using a scale of zero to ten, with ten being the worst pain you can imagine, start asking for medication when your pain gets to a four. If you let it get really bad, it's more difficult to get it under control." — Nancy Beck, RN, a nurse at a Missouri hospital 33. "Ask the nurse to wet your bandage or dressing before removal — it won’t hurt as much." — Karon White Gibson, RN

    34. "If you're going to get blood drawn, drink two or three glasses of water beforehand. If you're dehydrated, it's a lot harder for us to find a vein, which means more poking with the needle." 
    35. "Don't hold your breath when you know we're about to do something painful, like remove a tube or take the staples out of an incision. Doing that will just make it worse. Take a few deep breaths instead." — Mary Pat Aust, RN, clinical practice specialist at American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in Aliso Viejo, California

    The Truth About Doctors

    36. "If you have a choice, don't go into the hospital in July. That's when the new crop of residents starts, and they're pretty clueless." — A nurse supervisor at a New Jersey hospital 37. "Doctors don't always tell you everything. They'll be in the hallway saying, 'She has a very poor prognosis. There's nothing we can do.' Then they don't say that in the room. Sometimes I try to persuade them to be more up-front, but I don't always succeed." — Theresa Brown, RN

    38. "There are a few doctors at every hospital who just don't think that they need to wash their hands between seeing patients. Others get distracted and forget. So always ask anyone who comes into your room, 'Have you washed your hands?'" — Kathy Stephens Williams, RN 39. "Many doctors seem to have a lack of concern about pain. I've seen physicians perform very painful treatments without giving sedatives or pain medicine in advance, so the patient wakes up in agony. When they do order pain medicine, they're so concerned about overdosing, they often end up underdosing." — A nurse supervisor at a New Jersey hospital

    40. "When you're with someone who is dying, try to get in bed and snuggle with them. Often they feel very alone and just want to be touched. Many times my patients will tell me, 'I'm living with cancer but dying from lack of affection.'" — Barbara Dehn, RN, NP 41. "It's the little things that make a difference for people who are sick. One of the best things you can do is wrap them in a warm blanket or towel. Throw the towel in the dryer before they are bathed. If they're in a hospital, find out where the blanket warmer is." — Barbara Dehn, RN, NP 42. "I'll never tell you to change your code status to Do Not Resuscitate, even though I might cringe at the thought of having to break your ribs during CPR. With certain patients, however, I may talk to family members to clarify their goals for the patient's care. This sometimes leads to an elderly person being placed on comfort care rather than being continually tortured by us with procedures that aren't going to help." — A cardiac nurse in San Jose, California

    More Things We Want You to Know

    43. "Husbands, listen to your wives if they tell you to go to the hospital. Today a man kept fainting but wouldn't go to the hospital until his wife forced him. He needed not one, not two, but three units of blood — he was bleeding internally. He could have had a cardiac arrest. Another man complained to his wife that he didn't feel 'right.' His wife finally called me to come over to their house. His pulse was 40. He got a pacemaker that evening." — Barbara Dehn, RN, NP 44. "The doctors don't save you; we do. We're the ones keeping an eye on your electrolytes, your fluids, whether you're running a fever. We're often the ones who decide whether you need a feeding tube or a central line for your IV. And we're the ones who yell and screech when something goes wrong." — A longtime nurse in Texas

    45. "If you do not understand what the doctor is telling you, say so! I once heard a doctor telling his patient that the tumor was benign, and the patient thought that benign meant that he had cancer. That patient was my dad. It was one of the things that inspired me to become a nurse." — Theresa Tomeo, RN, a nurse at the Beth Abraham Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Queens, New York 46. "At the end of an appointment, ask yourself: Do I know what's happening next? If you had blood drawn, find out who's calling who with the results, and when. People assume that if they haven't heard from anyone, nothing is wrong. But I've heard horror stories. One positive biopsy sat under a pile of papers for three weeks." — Kristin Baird, RN

    47. "As a nurse, sometimes you do nothing but run numbers and replenish fluids. Sometimes you're also the person who reassures the teenager that 'everybody' gets her period on the day of admission, the person who, though 30 years younger than the patient, tells that patient without blushing or stammering that yes, sex is possible even after neck surgery. You're the person who knows not only the various ways to save somebody else's life but also how to comfort those left behind." — A longtime nurse who blogs at head-nurse.blogspot.com

    How to Be a Great Patient

    48. "I had one patient show up repeatedly to see me after he was discharged. Another little old man tried to pull me into bed with him. (He was stronger than he looked.) The general rule is don't ask us on a date. We're busy. It's unethical. And, really, I already know you better than I want to." — A longtime nurse in Texas 49. "Positive attitude is everything. I have seen many people think themselves well." — Nancy Beck, RN 50. "A simple 'Thank you' can really make my day."A nurse in New York City

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    Your Comments

    • shakesspear

      Shakira Elliot Says

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    • johnyiyi

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    • johnyiyi

      My Name is Peace..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this special spell caster once when i went to Africa to Execute some business..He is really powerful.The woman i wanted to marry left me 3 weeks to our weeding ceremony and my life was upside down.she was with me for 3 years and i really love her so much..she left me for another man with no reason..when i called her she never picked up my calls and she don’t want to see me around her…so,when i told the man what happened.he helped me to do some readings,and after the readings he made me to realize that the other man has done some spells over my wife and that is the reason why she left me..he told me he will help me to cast a spell that bring her back.At first i was skeptical but i just gave it a try…In 2 days,she called me herself and came to me apologizing..I cant believe she can ever come back to me again EMAIL: johnyiyi@rocketmail.com …. CONTACT HIM TODAY VIA THIS EMAIL ADDRESS: johnyiyi@rocketmail.com AS HIS POWERS ARE SO STRONG AND VERY EFFECTIVE AND HAS NO BAD EFFECT INSTEAD IT HAVE A VERY GOOD RESULT AFTER CASTING THE SPELL.

    • johnyiyi

      Need a spell caster? then think of John Yi Yi he is real reliable and he does what he promise you.I know all this because he helped with my marriage problem.For security reason i will not live my name here but i can tell you all he did to help me.Me and my family live in the US military base here in America,my wife is a solider and i love it that she is and i support.But being a solider means she is half my wife and fully the U.S army.before her three tour we were so in love and we had a kid son who we both love him.It all changed after her two tour in Iraq and Afghanistan,i noticed the distance her second tour she stopped call at first i thought maybe she was part of an accident but i found out that she was OK in Afghanistan.She explained that she always on patrol.It got ugly on the third. I guess in the last two tours she found herself a new lover and then totally forgetting me and our boy.I can not say i did not notice because she always has to be some where instead of with me,coming up with some silly excuse not to be with me that is ( have sex ) and her entire behavior told me all i needed to know. i did my research and i had a hint that it was her squad lieutenant.I had know evidence so a could not take the matter to any body.It killed me to seeing this happen i was going suicidal.What hurt me the most was she going home knowing that i suspect she infidelity,she kept lying to me over and over again.The power of positive thinking helped me a lot.I thought that maybe i can find in the help on the internet with the people who had being in the same problem with him.I found a lot of ways but nor worked except Shakes Spear spell.At that time five month ago i was so confused that i could do anything to get my wife back so i contacted Shakes Spear with his email address i saw in some comment on the internet at johnyiyi@rocketmail.com.I laid down my problem to him and told him the entire story and he even confirmed my hint was right, how he did i do not know but he was right because my wife told me later after the spell was made effective. Shakes Spear cast a spell on them both do not know what he did but it seem he made them both forget they ever crossed path romantically speaking like they never know each other expect there official relationship that is squad leader and solider.I owe my life to John Yi Yi what he did saved my marriage.I can tell you this because i have tried and it worked for me.Your case also have a solution with John Yi Yi contact him with his email johnyiyi@rocketmail.com

    • johnyiyi

      Hello To The World At Large,

      I am Miss Wacks.,From united states of America.I will start by saying to all that have experience heart break and also cant do with out there lover should please stop here and read up my story, So as you will know how to go solving or getting your ex back from this spell caster..AND AGAIN I WILL WANT TO ALSO TELL ALL THAT THIS SPELL CASTER I WILL WANT TO TELL THE WHOLE WORLD ABOUT IS HARMLESS AND DO NOT HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECT, BUT TO RESTORE AND GIVE YOU BACK WHAT YOU DESERVE, COS WHEN I MEET WITH THIS SPELL CASTER THAT WAS INTRODUCED TO ME BY THE WIFE OF MY BOSS IN MY WORKING PLACE, HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE CAN CAST SPELL ON SO MANY OTHER PROBLEMS EXCEPT IN GETTING YOUR EX OR MAKING YOUR LOVER TO LOVE YOU MORE THAT WILL SUITE YOU. Last year December, My lover was cheating on me and was not also give me the attention that a man should give to a woman,And really that was troubling my mind and tearing my heart apart to the extent that i was not concentrating in the office the way i use to before the break up by my lover.And before that incident,I always see how my boss use to love his wife so much. I was binging to think that i was not doing the right thing to him that will make him love me forever,So i really gathered my courage and went to my boss wife office to ask her the secret that made her husband love her so dearly,In the first place she refused in telling me,She asked me why i am asking her such a question,That if is it not normal for every man to love his wife.I told her the reason that made me ask her about this question,That my lover started cheating on me lately,When i knelt down before her for her to see my seriousness in this issue that i went to ask her,She opened up to me by telling me that i should not tell anybody about what she want to tell me,The wife to my boss started to say to me that she used a very powerful spell on his husband to love her,And the spell that she used is harmless, But the spell is just to make him love her and never to look for any other woman except her. I QUICKLY ASK HER HOW DID SHE GET TO KNOW THIS GREAT,POWER,DURABLE AND PERFECT WORK SPELL CASTER,she said that a friend of hers also introduce her to him. Then i also ask her how i can meet with this spell caster.SHE SAID EVERYTHING TO ME,THAT THE NAME OF THIS SPELL CASTER IS SHAKES SPEAR ORACLE TEMPLE.My next question to her was how can i get this wonderful spell caster,She said she is going to give me the email of the spell caster for me to contact him for my problem,Really she gave to me this spell caster email and i contacted him and explained all to him,And after every thing that needed to be done by the spell caster, In the next two days, My lover that hated me so much came to house begging for forgiveness and i was so glad that i have finally gotten my heart desire..I was so grateful to this spell caster for what he has done for my life.. So i made a promise to him that i will always continue telling the world about his wonderful work towards me and also to other that came to you before and also the people that will also get to you from my story that i narrated online now..I will want to say to the entire world that you should not cry over noting again, That there is a great man that has been helping individuals to restore there Joy and smile in there faces !! The direct email to get this man is : johnyiyi@rocketmail.com ,This is what i want to tell you all out there,That is thinking that all hope is lost ok.CONTACT JOHN YI YI TODAY:: johnyiyi@rocketmail.com .Thanks

      Regards,

      Miss Wacks.

    • so i disagry (kitty cat)

      so interesting…

    • so i disagry

      well…i never knew this…hmm…………………………………………………..

    • oldnurse

      SOME doctors LIE when they’ve made an error.
      SOME doctors tell the family of every patient in their care who dies, that the patient died of cardiac arrest….WE ALL DIE OF CARDIAC ARREST!!!
      To the doctors who do this—shame on you! You can only fool some of the people some of the time!

    • darry brown

      Last time I was in hospital a young nurse blew me every morning

      • darry brown

        then she allowed me to give her anal as a special treat

    • Danniel

      I didn’t see any nurses talk about how they chart giving medications when they really forgot to give them, or how they pocket medications for themselves instead of giving the meds to the patient. This goes on all the time in hospitals, home health and nursing homes. Another dirty little secret is nurses lie all the time to cover themselves. And because all they have to do is chart they did something, unless you witnessed them not doing it, it’s your word against their lying words.