When did patients become "clients"?

  1. 1
    Allnurses, when was the first time you heard someone referred to as a client instead of a patient.

    So, I'm starting an ASN program in August but I am taking pharmacology right now. I've noticed that instead of referring to people as patients most of the recently published books refer to them as clients.

    To me, a client is someone with whom you have a business relationship and it implies that there is a significant customer service aspect to that relationship. It's a phrase I thought I would leave behind after leaving retail.
    whichone'spink likes this.
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  3. 58 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    First heard it in training , 1980's. In private practice, it's entirely applicable, though even now, 25+ years down the line, we still refer to our "clients" as patients. The concept was that the term "Patient" was somehow derogatory.
    woahmelly likes this.
  5. 1
    HA!

    There is a HUGE push to revamp hospitals to increase "customer" traffic. Better patient care equals better customer service and visa versa.

    When you visualize your patient as your customer it changes the way you treat them, for the better.
    woahmelly likes this.
  6. 3
    It's been going on for quite a while. Hospitals are competing for patients, and consider that they are selling a service (health care). Then they do Press Gainey type surveys to see how happy their customers are. All of which leads to the mentality that the nurses are there to "serve" them, and thus may be treated as "servants".
    JB2007, NightNurseRN, and woahmelly like this.
  7. 5
    Very common in our nursing school books as well as NCLEX practice q's. I hate the word but then again last hospital I worked for, secretaries were ( Business associates), CNA's (Clinical Associates), Charge nurse (Resource coordinator) and so on. Patients had no clue wth that meant.

    Though, I have yet to hear a nurse say "J, can you eyeball my CLIENTS as I transport my client in bed one to endo?"

    Never heard a doctor call me to update them on their client either.
    mamamerlee, RNperdiem, Lil'mama, and 2 others like this.
  8. 11
    I first heard this term in nursing school. I have another degree in pre-law, and it was common to refer to customers as clients, because that was precisely what they were. It bothered me a great deal to refer to my patients as clients. I am still trying to understand why this gets under my skin so badly, and I think I may have come to a conclusion. You are correct when you state that a client is someone with whom you have a business relationship with. To me, a patient is someone who requires a very intimate sort of care at the most vulnerable times in their lives. A patient trusts you as their nurse in ways that are unparalleled in any other aspect; thus finding it difficult to compare to another discipline of work. While it is true that we as nurses practice customer service throughout our work day, I believe that we do so in a more personal way. We don't walk out of our patient's room after shaking their hand, for example, but rather after holding their hand.
    llg, VivaRN, fungez, and 8 others like this.
  9. 5
    My understanding of this is that the direction of health care these days is to involve people in their health care. It is moving away from us, the HCP's, having all the power and dictating what will be done to heal them. The word "patient" means "those who suffer in silence". Therefore "patient" is incompatible with the philosophy that people are equal partners in the relationship and the word "client" more accurately reflects the viewpoint that they are consumers who are the primary decision-makers.

    Erik
    3rdcareerRN, GHGoonette, nursej22, and 2 others like this.
  10. 3
    Quote from Jessy_RN
    Very common in our nursing school books as well as NCLEX practice q's. I hate the word but then again last hospital I worked for, secretaries were ( Business associates), CNA's (Clinical Associates), Charge nurse (Resource coordinator) and so on. Patients had no clue wth that meant.

    Though, I have yet to hear a nurse say "J, can you eyeball my CLIENTS as I transport my client in bed one to endo?"

    Never heard a doctor call me to update them on their client either.
    HA! "Can you please give me my client's vitals?" or "Can we please get this client to the OR stat!" So ridiculous sounding! It sounds as though we are trying to depersonalize medicine.
    ChristaRN, Floretta, and woahmelly like this.
  11. 1
    Quote from canesdukegirl
    HA! "Can you please give me my client's vitals?" or "Can we please get this client to the OR stat!" So ridiculous sounding! It sounds as though we are trying to depersonalize medicine.
    The opposite actually.

    A client is a person requesting service that they are purchasing. A patient is more like a faceless sick person that we will heal regardless of their feelings.
    woahmelly likes this.
  12. 1
    Sounds rediculous to change patient to client but in LTC the term of "resident" is much more common than "patient."
    woahmelly likes this.


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