Advice; Don’t tell the patient
Yesterday, I was heading off to surgery with my patient and the nurse in the next bay was wheeling hers out too. Except this nurse looked back and said, Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.” I cringed a bit and kept walking.
Here’s a bit of info that I chocked away in the “strange but true advice” section. Never, ever, ever give hope or encouragement to a patient unless you are absolutely positive about the outcome. Only tell the patient the stuff that is quantitative or provable. If it has anything to do with feelings or anything that can’t actually be measured… just skip it. I know that this sounds rather petty, but it can keep you out of hock. This is a true story about when I was young and naive. I was checking in a patient for a routine case. He was having something rather common, maybe like a gall bladder surgery, I don’t totally remember. His wife was very nervous. I talked with him and his wife at length, explaining every aspect of the procedure and what was to be expected. Eventually the anesthesia staff came and was ready to get him off to the OR. As we rolled away, she called out, “I love you!” I looked back at the tearful wife and I said, “don’t worry, he’ll be just fine.” Well, unfortunately that was a big mistake. Thirty minutes into the procedure, he suddenly threw a clot and had a massive myocardial infarction. He lived (barely) and we sent him off to the ICU on a ventilator. My lesson, never learned… never say “blah, blah, will be just fine.” You can never know when the death angel will swoop in and take them away. Procedures now a days are as safe as going to Wal-Mart. But you still can get hit by that bus in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I find it a little ironic, because I live my life day to day. I mean, I live as if I’m going to die tomorrow. If tomorrow indeed comes and my eyes open up… well, I consider it a blessing, and I thank God for that extra day. I say a prayer and say, “thank you God, I promise to make the best of this day.” I don’t know why I could ever think that the angel couldn’t get past Nurse John and steal away my patient. But sometimes, by sheer fate, it just happens. Because of this, I always tell my patient (and family) the honest truth. And as a superstition, I never say that they “will be just fine” Instead, I say that I “will give him my very best care.” If they are particularly nervous, I will offer to pray with them prior to going to surgery. This seems to give them greater comfort and if the unexpected happens, I feel better for it. If the worst happens, I feel that I can give comfort and counseling post emergency a whole lot easier.”