Boundary Infractions

  1. Professionals cross professional boundaries with patients when they engage in behaviors that transgress the usual professional nurse patient relationship. Typical boundary violations include: dating patients, get excessively emotionally involved with patients or their families (hard call), gift giving or gift receiving, making yourself inappropriately available to patients/families.

    when I was doing Case management on tech dependent children, this happened really frequently and included nurses telling mothers that they were the ones that knew what was best for the kid; nurses getting sucked into the family's problems and bringing gifts or clothing for the kids; doing non-nursing household chores (LIKE FEEDING FARM ANIMALS); taking responsibility for transporting the child to medical appointments. ETc, ETC.

    I'd like to say that boundary violations occur most frequently with new nurses, but I've seen it happen to nurses of all preparations and terms of experience.

    I, myself can admit to feeling a little sucked in at times. Easy when you are in the homes.

    Any experiences with boundary violations?
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  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   fedupnurse
    It is really hard to not get too attached when you have a long term patient. I think getting too involved and becoming part of the family, so to speak, is why there is such a high burnout rate in this profession. We try to fix everything for everyone and sometimes forget to fix what's broken in our lives. I also think it is that mindset that has so many nurses hooked up with real losers! We can be so co-dependent! I've cried with families while their loved one was dying, I've offered advice when asked, but usually I think I stay on the correct side! I don't think it's a good idea to date a colleague let alone a patient.
  4. by   mattsmom81
    I have worked with nurses who cross the line constantly in order to be 'the favorite' nurse of a difficult patient or family who makes innappropriate demands on the staff and the facility. In the process, of course, they make the rest of the staff look 'uncaring' which is the goal of both parties. I've seen management and chaplains cross the line consistently in the name of 'customer service'.

    Sometimes I think these dysfunctional families/patients must recognize the dysfunctional nurse and vice versa; they always seem to hook up and make life miserable for the rest of the staff trying to stay professional and do their job under difficult conditions.

    As a psych nurse friend of mine notes, there are lots of undiagnosed borderline personalities out there...LOL!!

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