25 More Secrets Your Nurse Won’t Tell You

© Ablestock.com/Thinkstock 1. “You might think that all the doctors who see you talk to each other, but they often

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 He was totally withdrawn—wouldn’t look at us, talk to us, or even open his eyes.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

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.

13.  “If the doctor gives you names of three different specialists, ask the nurse which doctor she would choose to take care of her own child.” –Karon White Gibson, RN, producer-host of Outspoken with Karon, a Chicago cable TV show.

14. “Before you demand that I call your doctor, understand what you’re asking. It’s not like you can just place a pleasant little phone call. You have to call their answering service and get them to call you back. Inevitably, you’re in another room when they call. Then when you finally talk to them, a lot of them are complete jerks, especially if you wake them up.” –A nurse in St. Petersburg, Florida

15. “I don’t know if we’re making more mistakes now or if we’re just tracking them better. It used to be if a patient came in the hospital and developed pneumonia, the attitude was ‘That just happens.’ Now, if they get pneumonia, we ask, ‘How did that happen?’ and we investigate.” –Kathy Stephens William, RN, staff development educator for critical care at St. Anthony’s Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri

16. “My biggest piece of advice: Bother the nurse. When I come upon patients who are in a lot of pain, I’ll ask, ‘Why didn’t you ask the nurse for your pain medication?’ and they say, ‘She looked so busy. I didn’t want to bother her.’ Please, ‘bother’ your nurse. She can’t help you if she doesn’t know what you need.” –Nurse supervisor at a New Jersey hospital

17. “If your doctor uses a lot of medical jargon and you don’t understand what it means, ask me to help translate—that’s part of our job.” –Theresa Brown, RN, an oncology nurse and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between

18. “If you can’t afford your medication, tell us. Your doctor may have other, less expensive ways to keep you healthy, or we may be able to connect you to resources that can help.” –Nancy Beck, RN, a nurse at a Missouri hospital

19. “When it comes to very elderly patients, sometimes family members who are afraid of seeing Mom or Dad go will want us to run a lot of tests or do a major surgery—when, really, the elderly patient just wants to be comfortable. If you’re the older patient, be sure your nurse and your doctors know what you want.” –Nancy Beck, RN, a nurse at a Missouri hospital

20. “Please don’t get mad at me because your scan was supposed to be at noon and you didn’t have it until 3. Unfortunately, I have no control over that.” –Theresa Brown, RN, an oncology nurse and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between

21. “Expect to get pain medication about 10 minutes after your request. If I am not there, simply call back.” –Nancy Beck, RN, a nurse at a Missouri hospital

22. “If you think your family member is confused, let us know. That tells us we should move them closer to the nurses’ desk and check in on them more frequently. We’ll also attach an alarm to their gown so we know if they’re getting up without assistance.”  –Nancy Beck, RN, a nurse at a Missouri hospital

23. “I understand why you want to bring your own medication to the hospital: It probably costs $10 in the hospital and 3 cents at the drugstore. But please, don’t do it. Under our regulations, it’s not allowed. We need to know everything that’s going into your system.” –Mary Pat Aust, RN, clinical practice specialist at American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in Aliso Viejo, Ca.

24. “In an emergency, the person who needs assistance is usually hyperventilating. So when you jump in to help, the first thing you should do is tell them to look you in the eye and take some slow, deep breaths. You’ll sound and act like an expert, and it will help everyone focus.” –Barbara Dehn, RN, a nurse practitioner in Silicon Valley who blogs at nursebarb.com

25. “Trust me: I want to give your mother a bath, but sometimes I’m too busy trying to keep people alive. Hygiene is important, but when you have people who aren’t breathing well, that has to take priority.” –Theresa Brown, RN, an oncology nurse and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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