Should I lighten up?

  1. 3
    The other night at dinner I met a bunch of my partners friends who I've never met. I introduced myself and what I do and where I work and was immediately asked to tell some recent disgusting OR stories.

    Now with my good friends (most of who are nurses that I trust) I'm happy to disgust them with some of the worst things I've seen over the years (without giving away any personal info, it's all general stuff) but to a complete stranger? I was really taken aback at the time and my response to him was that I didn't really want to discuss work. My partner still thinks I'm being rude even after explaining to him:

    I didn't think it was professional to start talking about patients in this way. I'm not saying that nurses should carry on like angels etc but I don't like the idea of exploiting someone's illness as a source of humour. Tell me if I'm being boring here but would you want the OR nurse who cared for your mother whose colostomy bag exploded covering the OR staff with poo after the operation to have this used as a joke? I don't think so.

    This is a small city and everyone seems to know one another. I already said I worked at X hospital in the OR. What if a friend or relative put two and two together? There could be repercussions. They could meet up with someone else and say 'I met this nurse called Scrubby who works at X hospital who said that the other day this patient with a coke bottle stuck up his bottom had to have it surgically removed'. This person may know the patient or worse could be connected with the nurses board or hospital administration. I could end up in court over this.

    So do I need to loosen up? How do you respond if you're asked to disclose stuff like this to people you don't know? After reading so many nurses posts here on allnurses over the years about confidentiality and professional conduct I've become more aware of how important it is not to step over the line.
    TDCHIM, VivaRN, and Ruby Vee like this.
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  4. 20 Comments so far...

  5. 9
    Use HIPPA as a reason for not discussing it. I think if you feel like you don't want to discuss work or any horror stories that is your right. That's like when people ask me as a veteran who has been deployed if I have ever killed someone. It is none of their business, very tacky and rude. I think you were fine with what you said.
    sparklie.lady, rosey2007, VivaRN, and 6 others like this.
  6. 3
    I think you are completely justified, for all the reasons you stated. I think it's odd for strangers to ask you about "disgusting" stories!

    I have a rule; I just don't talk about work outside of work, except to say whether it was a good or bad night. Everyone who knows me personally now knows better than to ask...
    canoehead, mamamerlee, and Scrubby like this.
  7. 5
    When someone overhears that health care professionals disclose information, laughing at peculiar cases, it causes distrust towards us as a whole health care community. We've all had/heard of patients who took so long to see a doctor because they were embarrassed to discuss what happened with their bodies.

    What you did was right Give your partner a big kiss after you tell him that being quiet is being respectful to your patients and that you may lose your job by disclosing them.
    newnurseotb, mamamerlee, RetRN77, and 2 others like this.
  8. 3
    I can't add anything to what's already been said here, except that you are completely right in refusing to talk about your cases. It doesn't matter if your partner's friends think you're uptight; someday it may be one of THEM on the operating table, and I doubt they'd appreciate being talked about in such a manner.
    mamamerlee, RetRN77, and Scrubby like this.
  9. 4
    You are completely right with everything you said. Especially since it is a small town. Here is the big but. Sometimes it is all in the way it was handled, such as tone of voice, etc. That may make others defensive or whatever and cause others to think you are uptight or rude. Even though you are not.
    I do it all the time. What I am saying is great but how I say it can come across poorly. I try very hard to stay "light" without compromising my belief.
    TDCHIM, mamamerlee, RetRN77, and 1 other like this.
  10. 2
    Maybe your companions' intentions were to be chummy and they were making awkward attempts at conversation without initially realizing their request was in poor taste. If so, then maybe your partner felt you could have tried to deflect it with humor somehow to avoid anyone feeling awkward.

    If they then persisted however, or gave you a hard time for not wanting to discuss the subject, then shame on them. Polite people respect others' boundaries. They don't try to manipulate/cajole them into doing what they want.

    If you ever have a similar situation come up in the future, you can always politely respond with, "That isn't something I do."
    mamamerlee and Scrubby like this.
  11. 2
    Quote from whodatnurse
    Maybe your companions' intentions were to be chummy and they were making awkward attempts at conversation without initially realizing their request was in poor taste. If so, then maybe your partner felt you could have tried to deflect it with humor somehow to avoid anyone feeling awkward.

    If they then persisted however, or gave you a hard time for not wanting to discuss the subject, then shame on them. Polite people respect others' boundaries. They don't try to manipulate/cajole them into doing what they want.

    If you ever have a similar situation come up in the future, you can always politely respond with, "That isn't something I do."
    I think you're correct in saying that it was probably a poor attempt at conversation. If only they asked what specialty area I'm in or general questions about what it's like working in that environment. You don't just jump straight in and ask about disgusting stuff. The guy moved on pretty quickly after I said I didn't want to discuss that side of things. At the time of being asked I was absolutely tired and didn't have a witty reply to his question.

    I think the next time I'm asked if ever I'll respond with 'I've seen so many operations it really doesn't have that effect on me anymore'.
    RNKel and RetRN77 like this.
  12. 2
    It's helpful to have a humorous stock answer to this question. If someone asks, "So what's the worst thing you've ever seen?" you can reply "The Last Airbender" (or the crummy movie / TV show of your choosing). It gives you a moment to relax and an excuse to smile, so you don't come off as defensive. A smart person will realize that you're saving face for the both of you. If you're further pressed at this point, you can just smile and say, "I'm not going to talk shop here".
    mamamerlee and Scrubby like this.
  13. 5
    I have this as well, scrubby. I make a joke out of it, something on the lines of: now, guys, that was a nice dinner, but I prefere not to see it back on the table, shall we just leave it? More wine?
    VivaRN, newnurseotb, Altra, and 2 others like this.


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