I shaved off a patient's mustache. Was I wrong? - page 4

I was written up yesterday for shaving off a patient's mustache. I don't understand what I did wrong. The man has had a stroke and has trouble feeding himself. He was getting food all over his... Read More

  1. by   wooh
    The daughter is upset on the grounds that taking away the man's mustache (with his consent) is taking away his dignity. Ironically, I think more of his dignity would have been lost should his consent for a shave been ignored in lieu of getting his daughter's consent. Even if he has dementia. You allow people with dementia to keep as much of their dignity as possible by allowing them as much decision making and self care as possible.
  2. by   canoehead
    There's dementia that keeps people from handling their own finances, and there's dementia that keeps them from picking out their own clothes. I'd be interested to know where the patient was in this spectrum. If he was with it enough to realize his moustache was dirty I'll bet he was with it enough to consent to shaving it.
  3. by   ddc101
    Quote from NebbyLPN
    I was written up yesterday for shaving off a patient's mustache. I don't understand what I did wrong. The man has had a stroke and has trouble feeding himself. He was getting food all over his mustache and face because of weakness in his right hand and arm. I come in to work the last two days and find all kinds of food particles in the hair and it just looked horrible. I couldn't clean the food particles out. I told two different charge nurses about this. I finally got so disgusted with it that I asked the man if it was OK if we shaved the mustache off. He nodded it was OK. Then, his daughter came in and raised the roof about it. I hadn't seen her visiting him the two previous days. She demanded to talk with the supervisor and told her she was going to sue the hospital! She said her father had this mustache for years--years! and was known among his family for his pride about the mustache. She said he would wax it up into elaborate curls. She told me that I should have called her first before doing this because the man's had dementia for some years. Well, no one told me that. I told the daughter that I had gotten her father's permission to shave the mustache off and he was very cooperative about it. I haven't been able to sleep at all tonight I've been so worried about this. I think I'm in big trouble and scared to go back to work today. What should I do? Should I call a lawyer?
    You needed family consent.My dad has a moustache and even being a nurse I would not be happy if I went to the nursing home and they had shaved his moustache.He may say yes but not know what he is actually saying yes to.Could you not have just trimmed it or do you just not really like moustaches? Also there is the patient rights advocate to think about.
    I would talk to the social worker and have them smooth this out for me.
  4. by   joyflnoyz
    Why is it OK to accept a patient's <with dementia> consent for a choice of OJ or cranberry juice; to accept his decison when he says NO! to the blue shirt or YES to having her hair washed, but NOT OK to accept a consent for shaving a mustache? If the patient had indicated NO, the OP would not have shaved him..
  5. by   PamUK
    IMO, the daughter did overreact. Mountains & molehills come to mind her.

    I agree with all the opinions about loss of identity. I think the nurse should have just explained her reasons and apologised and managment should have supported her more. This is not an irreverible situation & the moustache will grow back.

    But, just a thought about obtaining the patients consent... my dad had a right-sided stroke at the age of 46, seriously affecting his speech. For the rest of his life (he died aged 74) he would frequently say yes when he meant no and vice versa. Or he would ask for a coffee, when he meant tea. He would also call me Audrey (his sister) but I got used to it!

    Could this have been the situation here? Although the patient said yes, he actually meant no?
  6. by   Tweety
    Quote from caroladybelle
    The patient approved so I do not see where the daughter could sue.

    I don't see where see could sue either. Any decent judge would laugh her out of the courtroom, saying "um....it'll grow back".

    But the patient was demented, so asking his permission might not have been appropriate.

    Of course in a nonverbal patient who comes in without a history that was passed on, I'm supportive of the original poster.

    I'm empathetic to the daughters shock at seeing her dad without it after him having this trademark for long, but not supportive of her behavior.
  7. by   Tweety
    Quote from joyflnoyz
    Why is it OK to accept a patient's <with dementia> consent for a choice of OJ or cranberry juice; to accept his decison when he says NO! to the blue shirt or YES to having her hair washed, but NOT OK to accept a consent for shaving a mustache?
    I don't know why, but that's the way it is, and it's frustrating where the line between allowing the person with dementia choice.

    Probably the answer lies in the reaction of the daughter.
  8. by   renerian
    Nebby I think you were acting in the patient's best interest. YUCK who wants rotten food stuck in their facial hair.

    renerian
  9. by   Jo Dirt
    Quote from grannynurse FNP student
    The only portion that is possibly correct is the next to the last statement. Timothy, I do not know if you have or have ever had a beard and/or mustache but somehow I get the impression that facial hair is not an important part of your life. For some men and their families, facial hair is an important part of the self. Grannynurse
    That is far out and solid and right on. It obviously seems trivial to some people, but there is more to the picture than meets the eye. You might think of shaving the head of a femal patient who had always taken pride in her hair.
  10. by   Jessy_RN
    In my personal opinion I see you meant no harm, the daughter is acting extremely silly and I am willing to bet that the spark of a law-suit just filled the apple of her eye. So sad you are going through this.

    It seems like you amputated a limb. The beard will grow back maybe even nicer.

    Best wishes to you.
  11. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from Corvette Guy
    The patient has dementia!
    There are extremely varying degrees of dementia. We are not given the extent of this man's degree of mental impairment. And, no, being in LTC is not definer of severe impairment.
  12. by   Cute_CNA
    Quote from wooh
    The daughter is upset on the grounds that taking away the man's mustache (with his consent) is taking away his dignity. Ironically, I think more of his dignity would have been lost should his consent for a shave been ignored in lieu of getting his daughter's consent. Even if he has dementia. You allow people with dementia to keep as much of their dignity as possible by allowing them as much decision making and self care as possible.
    I really do not see how his dignity was taken away...
  13. by   PamUK
    Quote from Cute_CNA
    I really do not see how his dignity was taken away...
    Many men feel great pride in their beards & moustache (dont see it myself though) in the same way many women feel great pride in having great hair.

    How would you feel if your hair had been shaved off? Even if you weren't too fussy about your hair, you would be happy would you?

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