Patient Picking at clothing/bed linens - page 2

by 84RN

13,054 Views | 31 Comments

Has anyone ever seen this? I work in home health and have a patient with multiple serious health conditions. During a visit the other day, she seemed normal clinically---all VS normal for her, her O2 Sat and everything else on... Read More


  1. 0
    I've seen it once... the patient was delirious in acute ETOH withdrawal.
  2. 1
    Besides dementia pts, I've seen something similar in a pt that had what I consider kind of an absence seizure in the chiro office I worked in. The treatment table uses hydraulics to raise vertically for the pt to step on. When it was raised up so she could turn to her back, she just stood on the platform with a blank look on her face, mumbling to herself & picking at the towel that covered the table. It lasted for probably 2-3 minutes while the doc & I looked at each other like "what the heck?" Pt didn't recall anything when she "came to". We immediately set her up for a neuro consult & turns out she had a brain tumor. She had come to us following an MVA which she had caused & seems that she probably had one of these "episodes" at the time of the accident.
    sharonp30 likes this.
  3. 0
    ?magnesium def?
  4. 1
    Agitated patients with dementia or delirium will pull at clothes, bed linens, IV lines, and tubes. I've seen this more times than I care to think about.

    For a patient who is alert, basically oriented, not in acute distress, I have seen this in varying degrees, from simply picking at clothing or bed linens, to picking at their own skin, creating non-healing ulcers

    In both instances, I associate this type of behavior with anxiety or discomfort.
    Last edit by ~*Stargazer*~ on Dec 11, '12
    MedChica likes this.
  5. 0
    My father in law had brain cancer. In the end, he would sit in a chair and start moving his hands as if he were wrapping string around his hands. It was really amazing to watch. He did this for about a week or two before he passed away.
  6. 2
    All the above, as well as: drug reaction to heavy narcs, or, in pain/discomfort and unable to verbalize that they are in pain/has something causing pain not needing narcs but needing IV site check, repositioning, etc. unable to verbalize.
    MedChica and NurseOnAMotorcycle like this.
  7. 0
    Many of my Alzheimer's and dementia pts 'pick' as if they are picking lint off something. I've also seen it in pts who's health declined and they were heading for the "Celestial Discharge" and right before some of my patients started actively dying.
  8. 0
    I've seen it a couple of times - once in an old lady I gave Flexeril to, and an older male patient who got Ativan. They were 'plucking' at midair in their sleep.
  9. 1
    I'm still a nursing student, but just had my death and dying and hospice lecture. Our instructor said that she frequently sees patients near death start picking at the sheets, clothes, or themselves. She said once pts start seeing dead relatives it is a sign of impending death.
    sharonp30 likes this.
  10. 1
    I worked for 6 years in LTC on an Alzheimer/dementia unit. I'm pretty sure it's called floccillation...might be wrong. Seen it many times, especially working the night shift. And usually in the patient in the dying stages.
    echoRNC711 likes this.


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