- Nurses catch more errors than you think.
There are times when doctors order the wrong diet for a patient, forget to order a medication a patient was taking at home, or doesn’t realize a patient has had a Foley for several days. Nurses are the frontline defenders in preventing accidents, possible infections, and adverse events.
- The July phenomenon really exists.
In 2010, the Journal of General Internal Medicine conducted a study that calculated medical errors in the US. They found medication errors increased by 10% during the month of July at teaching hospitals (Phillips & Barker, 2010). This doesn’t mean all residents make mistakes or are responsible for patient deaths, but patients should always be paying attention to their medication changes, diagnostic procedures being done, and other medical interventions.
- ‘Maybe you should look into a second opinion.’
If you aren’t satisfied with your medical care, or your nurse is telling you this subtle, yet important message, listen! Getting a second opinion ensures you are getting the best possible care.
- Doctors don’t always get along with one another.
In all healthcare environments, doctors don’t always agree with their colleague’s plans and interventions. Consultations are wise when needed, but can create conflict when each provider has their own treatment plans and literature supporting their interventions.
- Nurses know preliminary test results.
Yes, we can see the x-ray indicating a fracture and an MRI revealing cancer with mets, but it is not in our scope of practice to tell the patient or their family members this information. However, there have been times when I have tip-toed around negative test results to give the patient and their family a well needed sigh of relief.
- Be honest about your health.
If you aren’t taking your medication as prescribed and I don’t know this, it will hurt you rather than benefit you. Lying about how often you exercise or leaving out your daily quart of ice cream habit only hurts your health more.
- Don’t tell me what you diagnosed yourself with on Wikipedia.
On too many occasions to count, I have seen patients come in with their diagnosis already on hand. It’s an upper respiratory infection, not Middle East Respiratory Syndrome…
- We all have battles we are fighting.
Nurses and doctors have one of the highest rates of mental illness among the US population. Doctors are more than twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population (Miller & Mcgowen, 2000), while nurses have over twice the rate of depression than the general US population at 18% (Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, 2015). We care about our patients and go above and beyond to serve them, but sometimes we are having a bad day too.