Controversial Patient Odors in Nursing - page 3

The topic of body odor in nursing can be rather controversial. In fact, the mere mention of body odor can trigger a knee-jerk reaction in some persons. Moreover, any nurse who has worked on the floor... Read More

  1. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Gi bleed is an odor that is unmistakable and is very hard to remove from the nose once it's in there!
  2. by   rachel10069
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I stand by my assertion that when a slender person smells offensively, the odor is typically attributed to issues such as poor personal hygiene or problems external to the individual.

    However, when an obese person smells badly, it is almost always attributed to the sweeping generalization that "fat people just smell a certain way." Nonetheless, I have encountered a fair share of both normal-weight people and overweight/obese persons with body odor.
    It depends how obese they are. If they are morbidly obese, they do sweat more and have trouble reaching certain areas to get clean. Many years ago, I had a patient who was over 500 lbs. She had to sleep sitting up in a recliner so she could breath. We had to have 5 people assist during a “bed” bath to move her. One afternoon, I kid you not, we found a half sandwich in her pendulous abd. She had no idea it was there. We didn’t tell her either. Didn’t want to embarrass her. If patients are only getting a bath 1x a week and there is a sandwich where it shouldn’t be, it is gross. I just can’t do patient care anymore. One of the reasons (and there are many) is the disgusting smells. I never got used to it. I never let the patients know I was about to hurl my lunch (or dinner), I’d pretend like it was no big deal.
    One time, many years ago, I was working on an oncology unit. A woman had breast cancer and the smell of necrotic tissue did it for me. I went and threw up in the bathroom. I felt horrible for her. Just can’t be around gross smells.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Dec 28, '16 : Reason: [/QUOTE] tags
  3. by   SaltySarcasticSally
    The smell of vomit ! I can handle all the other ones just fine. But vomit is my nursing Achilles heel, I grin and deal at work, but at home my husband is the designated vomit picker upper for the kids if he is home lol. I don't know why it makes me gag when no amount if c.diff poo ever does.
  4. by   BeenThere2012
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Another group that may face criticism is the mentally ill, many of whom neglect to shower for days or even weeks at a time. This is very common in depression, when it seems like too much bother to run the water, get in the shower, wash hair, rinse, dry off, and then dress in clean clothes. Needless to say, this practice makes a person smell bad, and I've seen nurses wrinkle their noses and say unflattering things behind the patient's back. "Why doesn't ____ just take a bath? He REEKS!" they'll say with distaste. They don't know that failure to maintain physical hygiene is a complex issue that has no easy solution.
    Yes, and then there are the ones who purposely want to smell bad as a way of protection to keep others away. Especially the homeless/vulnerable ones or the paranoid ones.
  5. by   BeenThere2012
    Quote from Brenda F. Johnson
    Gi bleed is an odor that is unmistakable and is very hard to remove from the nose once it's in there!
    OH YES! That and sloughing bowel tissue in brain dead patients are the worst for me.
  6. by   VivaLasViejas
    Worst smell I ever dealt with was that from a patient who was vomiting bloody feces. I don't think I got that odor out of my nose (and scrubs)
    for a week.{{{shudder}}}
  7. by   WKShadowRN
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Worst smell I ever dealt with was that from a patient who was vomiting bloody feces. I don't think I got that odor out of my nose (and scrubs)
    for a week.{{{shudder}}}
    .
    Yes, and that was the only time I gagged in the patient's room. I was trying to put in an NGT at the time.
  8. by   gigidixon1968
    After 20 plus years in Nursing, esp LTC, I have noted that there is apparently a fear involved with the lederly, especially the fear of falling, and some even have the old time fear of catching "their death of a cold". My gag reflex kicks in with staph related (MRSA) sputum and phlegm. I can handle even the nastiest fecal bacteria, but the mucous seems to get me krunked up severely. As an animal, child and elder advocate, I make sure not to ever let them know they caused me this distress, but I kindly do tell them they have a body odor issue, and would they allow a gentle bathing, even if I need to perform this myself, and not ask an aide to deal with an upset patient. I guess after all these years, how my patient feels is more important to me, and getting to the root of the problem by seeking out an answer can save you and your patient emotional pain. I am still also surprised when I run into a patient who was actually raised taking a bath or less a week, still suprised me, but shouldn't. I've done some backwoods rural general nursing, and nothing should suprised me. This was a really interesting discussion to run across. Just remember, you became a nurse for a reason. If that reason is the right one, understanding your patients feelings on hygiene is the most important first step. And you grow from each experience.
  9. by   Union-Jack
    I wrote this on another thread, but I recently had to manually drain my dogs impacted anal glands.

    Let me tell you, the stench was enough to gag a maggot.
  10. by   kalycat
    Quote from WKShadowRN
    .
    Yes, and that was the only time I gagged in the patient's room. I was trying to put in an NGT at the time.
    Me three (Viva). Had a patient found down in the community - apparently for an extended time. Confused and weak as a kitten but refusing an NG with all her might. Bowel obstruction, GI bleed, fecal emesis.... we all learned a lot that night. I never did find out what was going on with the patient, but we had to do an emergent ethics staffing because she was refusing care but too confused to make decisions.

    Not a great night. I chucked the scrubs in the biohazard bin on my way out the door.

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