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Should nurses cut patients' toe nails?

  • Comments (23)

Should nurses cut patients’ toe nails? What do you think?

You can join the debate on twitter using #feet.

Currently we teach all people with diabetes to look after their feet, including showing them how the nails should be cut, to prevent problems. 

Due to the increasing numbers of people with diabetes, having diabetes alone is no longer a reason to receive free chiropody. Only those people with diabetes who are at risk, such as peripheral neuropathy or had previous foot ulceration have access to free podiatry. 
There is no reason why nurses should not cut toenails provided they have had the training and have the appropriate equipment, however, they should be careful with all patients not just those who have diabetes.

Debbie Hicks is nurse consultant, diabetes, Enfield Community Services, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust; chair, Forum for Injection Technique; and co-chair, TREND-UK

  • Comments (23)

Readers' comments (23)

  • Anonymous

    Under normal circumstances yes but in this day and age, and with this number of nurses at most care settings, it is not going to be possible.
    I am sure we nurses all want to give ideal care, as we learned and feeling from our hearts. When it comes to practice unfortunatelly it doesnt work because we are under a massive work load and everybody knows it.

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  • Anonymous

    If nurses don't do it for patients unable to care for themselves nobody else is going to.

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  • Have done and probably will again- as above - if not me who?

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  • Ellen Watters

    Of course they should. As long as there are none of the contra-indications described above then it is part of the holistic care of a patient.

    Patients aren't just diseases, they are whole people toenails and all..

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  • Anonymous

    Yes and No if patient does not have any contra-indications then yes, but i would not be happy to do so as i would be afraid of consequences if nicking the skin, you with the blame culture we live in.

    We also should have training how to cut toenails properly.

    I have got a wild idea employ one Chirpodist to each ward or to two wards and let her do her/his rounds on a weekly/daily basis.

    I can see it now more risk assessment and care plan to cut toenails.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 12-Apr-2012 11:09 am

    good idea. gone are the days of just delivering care spontaneously as required. now you have to be careful who and what you touch as well as what you say and then fill in endless forms to prove it!

    Maybe soon we will become a no-touch profession like the physios.

    'Physiotherapists banned from touching patients'

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9195501/Physiotherapists-banned-from-touching-patients.html


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  • tinkerbell

    toe nails are very overlooked. Even my own. We have a dedicated toe nail cutter nurse on our ward. She is very vigilant. She has been trained in the art of cutting toe nails. She also does a much better job that the podiatrist, who keeps nicking our patients toes and is only called in to do the diabetic peoples toes, might be cos' he is always in such a rush as has a big caseload or should have gone to specsavers or both. Now we have to deal with all the bandaging of the toes he's 'nicked'. I would much prefer if our own nurse did their toes as she takes her time and appears to enjoy scraping out all the gunk from under their nails. It's good to see someone enjoying their job and doing such a good job. We all know that when she goes off to do someones nail she will not be back soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Never mind the toe nails, what about the poor patients that come in with you know what under their nails, can't get that out without cutting them and wecarevnotvallowed to do so!

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  • With some training it would be beneficial for nurses to cut thier patients toe nails. If any concerns then obviously we can ask advice from other healthcare members. Particularly for patients that have dementia and similar issues - they get used to us and sometimes do not like it when strangers come in attempting to cut thier toe nails!

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  • I have no problem trimming patients toe nails on the condition that:-
    1. I get correct training by appropriate podiatrist who can explain the dangers and enhance best practice.
    2. Give us the TIME to do it. Otherwise thereagain another task loaded onto the staff nurse, who daily has more and more and more jobs piled on top of her endless day...........................................................

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