Unprofessional to mention you have other patients?

  1. Someone mentioned in another thread that it's unprofessional to mention that you have other patients.

    I disagree. There is definitely a tactful way to let a patient know that you have an urgent matter with one of your patients, but will get that extra pillow as soon as you can. I find people very understanding when I communicate in a friendly and informative manner.
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  2. 65 Comments

  3. by   Purple_roses
    I mean, it's way better than just not accommodating the patient that very moment without an explanation. If you tell them you have other patients, it does a couple of things. First, it lets them know that you have a legitimate reason for why you can't do something right that second; you're not ignoring them. Second, it kind of (hopefully) gives them a reality check; as much as it would be nice to be pampered, this is a hospital, people are very sick, and the goal is healing--not freaky fast jimmy johns delivery.
  4. by   meanmaryjean
    At my former bedside job- it was verboten to even suggest you might have other patients or emergent work to attend to. Which is stupid (thanks Studer) because generally people are understanding if they've seen you running all night.
  5. by   NuGuyNurse2b
    People usually are understanding, but it can also backfire on you. I had a family member point blank said "I don't care about the other people." So I'm on the fence about it. if it's someone who is understanding, then I'll tell them that I'll be right in after doing xyz. But if it's someone who's like the example I gave, I just set realistic expectations - if it's something simple i can do right then and there to get it out of the way, I will do it. But if it's something that is more time constraining and it's not a priority over someone else, I let them know as diplomatically as possible and if they still complain, they still complain and I'll be prepared to explain to my manager or whoever they report to as to why I could not do it at that very moment.
  6. by   macawake
    Quote from Emergent
    Someone mentioned in another thread that it's unprofessional to mention that you have other patients.
    Naw, what's unprofessional in my opinion to treat your patients like they're idiots. Such as being deceptive and trying to create the false illusion that they have 1:1 nursing care. Most adults can handle reality, and I think they have a right to get accurate information.

    I find people very understanding when I communicate in a friendly and informative manner.
    I completely agree. I think that most people can be reasoned with. I only have one patient at a time these days, but when I worked med-surg and in the ER, my patients understood. The few who complained when their glass of water or extra blanket didn't materialize within 30 seconds, I simply told that if something serious happened to them healthwise, I'm sure they'd prefer that I showed up immediately, rather than prioritizing another patient's food, bed linen or some other non-emergent matter. That was usually enough.
  7. by   NightNerd
    Sometimes it's necessary to set those limits. I will always get things done, but waiting is sometimes part of life. I don't mention having other patients per se, but I will say, "Okay, got it. I'm dealing with an urgent situation in another room, but once that has settled down I will definitely (fill in the black)." And regardless of how they feel, that's gonna have to do!
  8. by   ~Mi Vida Loca~RN
    I think in the other thread the bigger part that people felt was unprofessional was saying you had other patients you have to give meds to, and then holding up your hand and shaking the meds to show them. Like if they were children you were speaking to. Just my take on the comments from that thread.


    As far as if it's unprofessional I think it's completely situation based. "Oh yea I have heard of that, I have another patient that happened to" "I am gonna go medicate my other patient and if we still haven't heard back about your results I will go ahead and call lab again and check" Etc. Etc.

    Opposed to, "I have other patients too you know" "I will see if I can get a CNA to do what you're wanting because I have other patients" etc. etc.


    Majority of patients are aware they are not your only patient.
  9. by   KatieMI
    Agree with Macawake. Shouldn't we also let them know that we do not have to rest, sleep, pee, etc., etc., and I personally am here for them 24/7/365?

    I tell people the truth, and even more so if they "do not care". (I know that you don't care about anything in the whole Universe but) here's the fact: I am getting a new admit and will be VERY busy for the next hour. If you need something, let me know NOW; if you do not, I am still here, it will just take a tad longer. Meanwhile, can you help me and keep an eye on this BP machine? I'll need it, si if it suddenly grow some legs, let it know that it to be stay HERE. OK? Thanks, se ya in 30 min (and will do my best to see them in 30 min if I said so).

    I love the question "and who is going to take care of me while you're busy?" As if that person grew up in time of great Carribean plantations when everyone of free status and some means was attended 24/7 by a whole pack of slaves following his or her every breath.
  10. by   Sour Lemon
    I mention that when I make my initial introductions at change of shift. I invite the patient and family to call me for anything. I also let them know that if I'm with another patient, I may be delayed ...but that I will come to them as soon as I'm able to. It helps manage expectations before there's a problem and lets the patient know that I want them to call for help whenever needed.

    I also have a habit of letting people know their place in line. "I've got two requests ahead of you, but I'll be back with your pudding soon after that ....it might be about 10-20 minutes."

    I think the key is to explain before they're too frustrated and angry to listen (or care).
  11. by   Purple_roses
    Quote from KatieMI

    I love the question "and who is going to take care of me while you're busy?" As if that person grew up in time of great Carribean plantations when everyone of free status and some means was attended 24/7 by a whole pack of slaves following his or her every breath.

  12. by   OrganizedChaos
    It's fine to mention you have other patients. But to wave meds or whathaveyou in their face like "See, see, see! You're not my only patient." is very rude & insulting.
  13. by   cleback
    Like other posters have said, I think it depends on how you say it. Leaving it at "I have other patients, you know" can come across as very snotty. Most people know you have more than one. It's better to say, "I have an emergency/urgent need in another room but I can be with you in 20 minutes."

    Even then, I have had patients say to me, "you can't say that! I'm sick too!" Not foolproof by any means.
  14. by   cjcsoon2bnp
    I think that it has to be said very carefully with the right tone, choice of words and context. Saying somethign to the effect of "well I have other patients too" or "I have 4 other patients besides you that I need to take care of" is completely inapproapraite and out of line. But I think that there are subtle, professional ways of reminding patients and families that you have multiple people to care for and you want to make sure that everyone gets the best quality of care.

    However, I have said to patients before "Now that we have gotten you some pain medication let's see if that helps you to feel more comfortable. I'm just going to check on a few of my other patients to make sure that we don't have any emergencies going on but I will be back to check on you. If there is anything that you need before I get back please press your call bell and one of the staff will be right in ASAP."

    I find that usually is usually sufficient for most people but if someone requires a lot of assistance or is requesting frequent updates on what is going on then I might change the script a little bit.... In the ED a lot of patients and families want to know the result of every single test exactly as it comes in (and we all know that many of the labs or diagnostic imaging tests result at different times) so what I tend to say is this

    "Right now we are waiting on the results of a few of your tests. I'm going to step out to round on all of my patients to make sure that everyone is doing ok at the moment and there aren't any emergencies that need my attention. Once all of your test results have come back or we have an update in your plan of care for today then I will come back and we can talk about it. If you need me for any reason before that time please hit your call light and one of us will be right in to help you."

    !Chris

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