What to say to a really sick patient?

  1. I would like suggestions from anyone on phrases or tips when communicating to a patient. Last week my patient was very sick in clinicals because he had his right kidney removed and an ostomy bag. He also struggled with osteoarthritis. Sometimes I did not know what to say. I know how are you doing is not the best approach.What questions or comments have been theraputic? Thanks everyone for your feedback.
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   Achoo!
    "How are you dealing with all of this?" That can open up a lot of therapeutic communication.
  4. by   AnnieOaklyRN
    Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. Just do some listening.

    swtooth
  5. by   moongirl
    I always check back and ask " are you doing ok right now, is there anything I could get or do for you"

    sometimes they are afraid to " be a bother".
  6. by   Tweety
    "Anything I can do to make you more comfortable?"
  7. by   Daytonite
    never underestimate the power of the non-verbal. gently taking someone's hand, just looking into someone's face or the faintest of a smile can "speak" more efficiently than any words you can think of to say. if you don't have any words to say, then say nothing and just stand by quietly.

    http://www2.nemcc.edu/rlansdell/web/...iles/frame.htm - a really nice slide show on therapeutic communication. includes techniques, scenarios and blocks to communication.

    http://academic.luzerne.edu/nfruscia...iles/frame.htm - a slide show on therapeutic communication. talks about the components, goals, therapeutic and non-therapeutic techniques.

    http://faculty.mc3.edu/rbenfiel/nur1...ion/sld001.htm - communication. a slide show (18 slides)

    http://www.education4skills.com/thecom/contents.html - therapeutic communication skills tutorial - page of links to subjects covered

    http://monsoon.he.net/~eri/realaudio...utic/thera.htm - a lecture series on therapeutic communication and the nursing process on cds that you can access at this website from education resources, inc. you need a real player to view the video.
  8. by   locolorenzo22
    Being friendly to a patient no matter WHAT they say can go a long way. Understanding that the patient has the right to decide what he wants to do at that time...(you don't want to clean up right now? ok, do you think you'd feel more comfortable doing it after meal/rehab/tv show?) Even just asking questions after you get a snippet of information about them can show a lot of understanding...
    my pt had a stage IV cancer dx. He was having biopsy/x-ray/etc a lot of procedures done that day, and was getting wiped out. However, after responding friendly to him after he'd cuss or tell me to get the hell out went a long way. Also, he mentioned he was in the army, his old job, his volunteer exp at the same hospital...and I just went from there asking open ended ?'s to keep him talking.....
    Just treat patients exactly how you would want your own family member to be treated by staff....
  9. by   EricJRN
    I'll echo what the others have said: More listening, less talking is the way to go. You might say something like, "Looks like you're having a pretty rough time (rough day, etc)." Usually they'll take it from there and talk to you if they're ready.
  10. by   hispanicpanic
    Talk to them like they are human beings not a disease process. I think alot of times the chronically ill patient is tired of being treated like a sick or dying person. They miss the days before they became ill. People used to talk to them about normal day to day things. Now people look at them with pity, compassion, and empathy but when you've been sick for a long time that can start to get a little annoying...Just some advice from an RN who has also been on the other side. Good luck and welcome to the career.

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