Calling patients by "pet" names. - page 2

Does this bother anyone else? I'm a student and during clinicals I've often heard young male nurses, techs, and patient transport personnel address women who are old enough to be their mothers (or... Read More

  1. by   aprilmoss
    It's somewhat of a regional thing. Up here in the NE, those terms would never be used. Down south, it's a different story.
  2. by   Amethya
    When I worked in Cardiology, I used to address my patients with Mr./Ms./Mrs. [Last name], and after that I went to "hun" or "dear", and they would address me as such, sometimes. I live in Texas, and it's normal to hear that from someone, and I honestly find it endearing unless someone tells me they don't like it, then I don't do it. I work at a school now and I use "baby", "babe", "darling", "honey." on my students, and I heard no complaints about it.

    The ONLY time I heard complaint about it was when I worked at summer camp this past summer in Pennsylvania and some kids were like what? and one of my co-workers told me to stop, but after I explained that how I talk to my kids at work and I'm not demeaning them in any way, but that's what you call "southern hospitality" in Texas, no one cared anymore.
  3. by   Amethya
    Quote from aprilmoss
    It's somewhat of a regional thing. Up here in the NE, those terms would never be used. Down south, it's a different story.
    Yeah I found that out the hard way when I went to work in Pennsylvania for 2 months. Some kids were acting like I insulted them but when I explained to them that's how it is in Texas, they accepted.
  4. by   llg
    I have lived in several different regions of the country and have found that cultures differ. I grew up in Pennsylvania and can't imagine EVER using any of those terms for patients. We don't even use them within my own family!

    I think this is definitely a case where we should be sensitive to what our patients want -- and try to meet their needs. If they feel that such names are demeaning and disrespectful, then we should avoid them. But if they want to be called those things, then we should do that.
  5. by   Miiki
    I call my patients all kinds of pet names like stinky butt, fussy pants, peanut, pumpkin, etc. They NEVER complain.
  6. by   PrincessLexx
    I'm from the South, so we pretty much all say "honey," "sweetie," "hun," "darlin," etc. Of course, when introducing myself and such, I call them by Mr/Mrs/Ms. I feel like using these "pet names," as you called it, sounds so much more personal and comforting.

    When talking to my patients, I think about how I would want to be spoken to. Of course I want respect, but don't act like a robot. I know I feel a more comfortable when I'm in the hospital/doctor's office and the nurse enters and says, "Hey sweetie, I need to draw some blood in order to run some tests," as opposed to, "Hello Mrs. PrincessLexx, I need to draw some blood in order to run some tests." I just feel like the latter is more rigid.

    I guess it's a southern thing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  7. by   Ddestiny
    Where I work, one of the first things that one fills in on the "Flow sheets" in charting under the head-to-toe is a a space where it asks the patients' preferred name. The only time I don't ever see this filled in is the rare situation where the patient can't speak (i.e. emergently tubed) and the family/friends at bedside say something to the effect of "well, she goes by 'Pookie' with her friends". If a patient wants me to call them Pookie, fine, but I'm not going to do it without them specifically offering. I think that waking up in the ICU, probably not knowing what's going on, and having people you've never met calling you by a personal nickname would just add to the discomfort of the moment so "Ms/Mr ____" or "Sir/Ma'am" it is until they're more able to communicate.

    We also have a spot on their white board where we fill in their preferred name to help with staff that might answer call lights.
  8. by   MrsBelle
    It's a southern thing! I was born and raised in the Deep South, everyone has a pet name from "sweetheart" to "darlin". Pet names are so common in that area even my patients I've never met use terms of endearment when addressing me. An example I can think of is a sweet older gentleman who was a post op CABG, I introduced myself as "Nurse Belle" and he said well, I'm not good with names so if I don't remember it can I just call you baby/darlin? I laughed and said that was just fine. I don't think a thing about it when I'm at home, however, I've moved out west and people are a tad different here. Like others have said, it's really a regional thingy
  9. by   RSue, RN, MSN
    Addressing patients as Mr or Mrs shows respect, and sets a more professional tone. The patient may give you permission to call them by their first name, but I would never initially assume that.
  10. by   Tweety
    Interesting you would call out male's.

    I am with the sentiment that it being long term care perhaps they are familiar with the patients and to give them a sense of "home" they are more casual. As a student you perhaps should be this casual.

    I almost always start out the day with calling people "sir" and "ma'am" or "Mr. or Ms." but as time progresses am a bit more casual. I notice as I age, I'm 58, I still use respectful titles for the elderly but am a bit more casual with younger people. Most of the time I will ask "since I'm old enough to be your father can I call you Jim rather than Mr. Smith? (or whatever their first name is) and we get a laugh. No one has ever said no.

    While it's respectful, we also must convey some sense of confidence and collaborative relationship with patient, rather than a subservient one. Part of that is building a good rapport with our patients, and when appropriate terms of endearment and first names are not necessarily a sign of disrespect.

    Good luck!
  11. by   PhlebToRN
    Technically, using pet names is a form of "harassment." Every facility I've worked at in my state has said this. Because of that AND the fact that I hate being called things like "honey" or "dear" or "sweetie," I avoid it completely. Unless the pt specifically asked you to call them "such-and-such," or if they said it was okay.
    With that being said, I wouldn't let it get to you (easier said than done, I'm sure). It's going to be done anywhere you work. You can try to mention it to peers or managers when you start working, but it's one of those things that I don't see ever changing, so I stopped wasting my time with it. But that's just me and my 2 cents.
  12. by   hawaiicarl
    Quote from llg
    I have lived in several different regions of the country and have found that cultures differ. I grew up in Pennsylvania and can't imagine EVER using any of those terms for patients. We don't even use them within my own family!

    I think this is definitely a case where we should be sensitive to what our patients want -- and try to meet their needs. If they feel that such names are demeaning and disrespectful, then we should avoid them. But if they want to be called those things, then we should do that.
    I agree with this this, back home can't even imagine it, here in Hawaii older people are called Auntie or Uncle as a sign of respect. Took some getting used to.

    Cheers
  13. by   dhenderson88
    Quote from Miiki
    I call my patients all kinds of pet names like stinky butt, fussy pants, peanut, pumpkin, etc. They NEVER complain.
    I like to pretend I'm Red from "The 70's Show" and I just call everyone dumbass.

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