Is it our role to pass judgement on patient behaviour? Does it help or hinder care?
While on placement, I helped nurse a patient who was alcohol dependent and had been admitted for alcohol detox.
The patient was independent but required some assistance due to the withdrawal symptoms he was experiencing. I found him pleasant to look after and he thought highly of the staff on the ward.
The patient was to be seen by a specialist nurse who assesses alcohol dependent patients while in hospital. I was interested, so when the nurse came in for the review I asked if I could accompany him. He agreed but I was surprised when he made some derogatory remarks about the patient’s drinking habits, and their repeated drink driving.
The nurse approached the patient, didn’t introduce himself or offer to close his curtains to respect his privacy, and made a remark about the patient’s drink driving and their lack of morals. The patient became very upset.
Is it the nurse’s role to pass judgement on the behaviour of their patients? Does it help or hinder care?
I didn’t feel happy with how the nurse had spoken to the patient. They’d been through an awful lot, and it’s not up to me, him or anyone else to judge this man’s behaviour.
At the end of the day, nursing isn’t about being judgemental - it’s about caring for the public no matter what they have done in the past.
Nurses need to be more proactive in their care and be professional when talking to patients, their families and colleagues. If nurses can listen and see a person not for their limits but for their potential, show empathy and understanding, the patients’ needs will be met resulting in the best possible nursing care.
James Merrell is a first year nursing student at Bournemouth University.