Thursday, March 20, 2008

Common Courtesy

It's been super busy at work this week - lots of spring babies. I was fortunate enough to have a great group of patients, however, I sometimes start feeling very frustrated at the way some patients and visitors behave. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job, don't get me wrong, but I had more than a few occasions over the weekend where I found myself rolling my eyes in disbelief.

RULES FOR BEING A PATIENT OR VISITING A PATIENT ON THE POSTPARTUM UNIT:

1. When your nurse (or doctor, for that matter) enters the room and you are talking on the phone, please do not keep talking as if we are not there. We have come into the room for a reason. Please ask whomever your are conversing with to hold while you inquire as to the reason for me being in your room. If I need to do some sort of assessment or vital signs (on your or your baby), politely tell the person on the other end of the phone that you will call them back. I would think if you are seeing someone new in your room and you have a new baby with you, you'd get off that phone real quick. If I need to assess you and you continue talking like I'm not there, expect me to say "I need to do your assessment now" and if you keep talking, expect me to do your assessment. Expect me to interrupt your phone conversation because I will need to ask you questions (about your pain level, about baby, about how much rest you've been able to get, etc).

2. If I offer to help you with something, that means I have time at that moment to do so. Please take advantage of my offers to do something for you when I am in your room. Nurses have to plan their patient care for their shift in advance so when we come into your room to do something, it means we have made time to do what we need to do AT THAT TIME. We have unexpected things happening constantly which may change the plan of care during the course of our shift. I MAY or MAY NOT have time to come back in 15 minutes when you are done visiting your constant stream of visitors. Which leads me to #3.

3. For crying out loud, there does not need to be a huge entourage of people following parents and the baby from the labor room to the postpartum room. GO HOME! And if you do stay, have the common sense to leave the room while the staff get mom and baby settled. There is nothing worse than trying to talk over 4 or 5 + people when you are orienting them to the unit. I shouldn't have to, but I will ask them to wait out in the hall.

4. If you are waiting in the hall for your family member or friend, please keep the noise level down. There is a floor full of moms who just had babies AND THEY ARE TIRED! I understand it is a happy occasion and people are happy; do your best to use quiet voices. AND DON'T LET YOUR KIDS RUN UP AND DOWN THE HALLWAYS!

5. Don't come to visit someone if you stink of cigarette smoke. YOU STINK and we don't want to smell you! Oh, and if you are a parent to a new baby and you go out for a cigarette (a.k.a. "fresh air"), wash your hands and do whatever it is that smokers do to get rid of your cigarette stench before you come back into the nursery to get your baby. Better yet, do whatever you need to do to try your best to stop smoking.

6. With the exception of grandparents, there is no need to stay for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Better yet, why not wait until the parents are home. Parents are tired. They need to rest. You can visit them in the comfort of their own home. Don't forget to bring them some food!

7. Wash your hands or use the hand sanitizer. In this day and age, everyone should know this is standard, especially in the hospital. Don't be offended when you are asked to do so either. Not in the hospital and not when you are visiting a one week old baby.

8. Don't visit ANYONE in the hospital if you are sick. It's selfish. If I happen to realize that you are sick, I will politely, but strongly urge you to leave for the sake of the baby (if no one else).

9. This one is touchy: If you know how to change a diaper and you are able, don't call the nurse in to do it. Our job is to TEACH parents how to change diapers. There are actually people who have never changed a diaper and many who haven't changed a diaper in a long time. I have actually had patients who have been told that they don't have to change their baby's diaper in the hospital. Sorry. There are babies who have breastfeeding problems, there are moms who are vomiting after having a C/S. There are moms who are in pain. I am absolutely more than happy to change diapers for exhausted parents or moms who aren't up and around after giving birth. But don't put your nurse call light on just to ask me to change the baby's diaper. If I suspect you know how to do it (because you gave birth two days ago and I've seen you up and around) and you are just expecting the nurse to do it for you, expect me to say something like "I'll be happy to watch you change the diaper so I know that you can do it yourself before you take your baby home." This usually works.

10. If you are not a parent, don't ask me the what the baby's measurements are as I am doing them. I honestly don't think this is something people think about, but I don't think it is right for me to tell someone other than the parents first. I don't know the relationship the parents have to the person or people hovering over the baby who was just born (grandparent, aunt, friend, etc). I just don't think it is fair for anyone other than the parents to get this information first.

Last one...........

11. Visitors: If a baby seems hungry and mom is breastfeeding, OFFER to step out of the room while she feeds her baby. Don't wait for her to ask because she usually won't. This is especially important right after the baby is born as the first hour after birth is prime time for feeding baby. You can wait until the baby is done. It's not about you. Delaying the first feeding can actually effect how well the baby is breastfeeding in the days after birth. If they feed immediately after birth, when they are awake and alert, there chances for successful breastfeeding are much better.

5 comments:

Emily Marie said...

LOVE this information. I should print it and post it around for people to read! I agree 100% on all of this!

Heather B said...

I WISH I could post it in the hospital! I even googled hospital etiquette/phone etiquette in the hospital and there is not much out there (except respiratory etiquette, etc)

Ana said...

OH MY GOSH! Seriously.. I was never "really" in postpartum but since we have been in and out of the hospital with Ben.. I have found that ALL these things are so true! I try really really hard to respect the nurses that are taking care of my kids because I know that if you are nice, the nurse will TRY to go the extra mile for you. If I'm perhaps watching TV when the nurse comes in.. I TURN IT OFF... it's hard enough for the nurse to do her assessment without all the background noise! I love nurses.. we have had some of the BEST (and a few of the worst) nurses!! I have come to realize that the time in the hospital after the birth is pretty special, and should be for the mother to heal and relax... not to entertain! Oh, I could go on and on.. thanks for this one! :) I would have loved for you to be my nurse!

Dad said...

Heather,
Good job, Heather you know how it's done! Maybe you should post this at work when no ones looking!
Thats my daughter, I'm proud of you.
Love you,
Dad

Brandi said...

I totally agree! The nurses treated me so much better at St. Lukes when I respected them and I ALWAYS took advantage of the nurses who had the extra time to get me anything I needed, some of them even gave me a neck or back rub and one of them even scratched my back when I had a horrible allergic reaction to the mophine!
Sadly, a lot of people tend to think these days that being a patient in the hospital means they need to be waited on hand and foot by the nurses. You didn't go to nursing school to learn how to be their waitress and you aren't expecting a tip, just respect.
You do a GREAT job Heather and I'm proud to say that my sister is a nurse!

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