Calling patients by "pet" names. - page 4

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   JKL33
    Quote from Garden,RN
    No It' doesn't bother me one bit that nurses are being kind or affectionate to their patients. If the patient doesn't like it he or she will speak. What bothers me is that you aren't minding your own business and for some unknown reason have made yourself the judge. I am sure there are areas in your practice that you could and should be working on. And I don't care if the administrators like it either! I say this both as a nurse and a patient. As a patient, I welcome the humanity and abhor the idea that we are to be like dam robots.
    It doesn't bother me that nurses' intentions are to be kind. The discussion at hand is regarding the fact that, individually, we may do various things that we feel represent kindness - but of course the real matter (with regard to kindness) is whether or not we can say a blanket statment that all patients on the whole, find a particular thing to be kind, and whether or not it is okay to assume that one will find it kind (which is what we're doing when we use generically-affectionate names for people without asking).

    To say that the opposite of using pet names is being robotic represents a limited perspective. One could actually argue that using "generic" names for human beings is the thing that is more robotic...although we both know that's not true, either, since the intention is usually to show caring/fondness, etc. Since people show kindness in various ways, the duty of the nurse is to make some effort to understand patients' perspectives - - and in this particular case, it is ethical to also understand things that may limit the patient's ability or willingness to "speak out" if they don't particularly like it.

    If I believe that rules are always made for good reason in order to help people or keep them safe or improve their health status, and therefore I show kindness primarily by making sure all rules are enforced - do you think that would always translate as kindness to other people? And yet I could argue that it is the kind thing to do...if you care about someone you always do what is deemed "best" according to the rules...

    Maybe someone else prefers to show kindness through physical contact, such as hugging. Is that okay? Is it so okay that it's fine to assume everyone will agree that it is kind?

    Perhaps it is regional, I don't know. But we don't call patients pet names around here; those who do are outliers and someone will likely speak to them about it. I'd say in my region it's largely considered belittling, intended or not.
  2. by   Garden,RN
    Since this is a forum for nurses, I am working off the assumption that we all understand there are patients too vulnerable to speak for themselves. I would think those patients have bigger concerns than someone calling them by an endearing term. I am however disturbed by the other nurse not minding her own business especially over something so insignificant.
  3. by   llg
    I remember being taught when I was in school to never use such nick names as their use was a way of putting the patient in a subordinate position to you, the profession. They should not be subordinate: they should be equal.
  4. by   Garden,RN
    "If I believe that rules are always made for good reason". First of all I don't believe the rules are always for good reasons. In fact there are many solid examples to the contrary. I am sorry that you believe that you are not a free thinker or analyzer of data. In the nurse-patient relationship, those too decide what is the correct and acceptable method to interact. They establish those boundaries. In school we were taught many things that doesn't mean they were all perfect. The MD's are revisiting the whole pain as a vital sign thing, for example. As for the terms of endearment, much of it is cultural. In my culture, we expect nurses to be nice. sweet, and independent thinkers. We don't have all these hang ups about minutia like this. When you interact with your patient as a licensee, you have to use your own judgment, it's your license and your skin. The nurse said she was offended, not the patients. Well it isn't about her. Maybe she has too much time on her hands. Instead of budding into her colleague's nurse-patient relationship, she should find something productive to do.
  5. by   ValRN1
    Had a resident call me 'dear' when waiting for attending. Think he was sorry when I waited till attending arrived and then informed him that it was demeaning to use this familiar term for a complete stranger. Attending agreed and lectured him about familiar terms with patients. Not mean about it, just reminded him to consider her terminology.
    Last edit by ValRN1 on Sep 28 : Reason: Wrong word
  6. by   nmnnurse
    Quote from MunoRN
    I think that vulnerability is the reason we sometimes use less formal terms with patients, I'm not sure "Mr." and "Mrs." always convey that we recognize they feel vulnerable as much as 'warmer' terms might.

    That being said, there are definitely those patients who you don't use these terms with, and there are regional and cultural differences about how freely these terms are thrown around. It generally comes down to reading people and trying to understand how they want you to see them.
    I was taught that it was disrespectful to use pet names, but I am about as far north as you can get in the states. I think it would be awkward coming from me. However, I worked with a lady from SC when I worked LTC and it seemed completely normal from her. The residents loved it.
  7. by   JKL33
    Quote from Garden,RN
    "If I believe that rules are always made for good reason". First of all I don't believe the rules are always for good reasons. In fact there are many solid examples to the contrary. I am sorry that you believe that you are not a free thinker or analyzer of data.
    I am not following your last sentence especially.

    To clarify, I brought up "following rules" as a generic example of a way that someone might believe s/he is showing care - by following rules that s/he believes to be in the patient's best interest. The problem is, this doesn't always translate to others, although that particular nurse may feel strongly that following rules is a way to show care.

    I didn't bring up "rules" as a way to discuss rules about pet names. My second example was hugging as a way to show care. Following rules to a 'T' is a way that some people show care. In both of these examples (as well as with using pet names) that sort of "caring" doesn't always translate to others as "caring."

    I thought I was pretty clear with that example, but my apologies if not.
  8. by   AnnoyedNurse
    You're technically right. As a male nurse, I acknowledge that I do this as well. But it's only because we love our patients. I wouldn't call them pet names but rather terms of endearment and signs of care and love. The relationship I establish with my clients, they would feel comfortable telling me not to call them that. Usually, they are telling me how handsome I am and that they I have a niece for me. I joke and tell them that I'm in if they have a nephew! Every nurse is different. I do what makes me and my patients comfortable in my practice and in their care. I want them to feel safe and feel like they are being looked after by someone who cares for them.
  9. by   TheMoonisMyLantern
    For a very long time I was guilty as charged with using "honey" with my geriatric patients. Heck, I practically punctuated every sentence with "honey" or "sweetie". I never got any complaints, and I never meant it disrespectfully. However once I started working in psych I stopped using terms of endearment for obvious reasons. Boy was it hard!
  10. by   Zombie_NSG_Student
    Yeah, as others have said, down in the South, it's a completely different culture. I've discussed it with travel nurses from up north, and it's a big culture shock.
    I've always been a bit reserved, and would NEVER call anyone but a boyfriend by a pet name...until I started working in LTC. But everyone there calls the residents "dear" and "sweetie" - it's almost impossible not to pick it up. To my horror, it began just popping out!

    I went to acute care about a year ago, and I'm still trying to re-train myself. No patient has ever corrected me for calling them by a pet name, and many of my coworkers use the terms, but it still bothers me.
    I believe that as a worker in a "service" job, I should show respect to the patients. I try to call even patients who are younger than me my "sir" or "ma'am", if I don't remember their name to address them as "Mr.___" or "Mrs.___".
    I just know personally, it would bother me if my nurse called me sweetie....but not enough to mention it. But the prevailing opinion seems to be different.
  11. by   Toadette
    Personally, pet names drive me crazy. When people use pet names it seems disingenuous, demeaning, and rude.

    So, I normally ask my patients or their family what their preferred name is because this is how I would like to be treated in a similar situation.
  12. by   Sbhayes09
    I feel the same as NurseDisneyPrincess. I'm also from the South and although we were taught in our CNA class to avoid terms of endearment with patients, I have a hard time controlling it. I used to be a waitress and even then I used those terms. Most people in the South would respond basically the same way but, if you come across someone from a different area, they usually react differently.
  13. by   gettingbsn2msn
    I'm in the South and we call everybody by pet names. It's normal here. I think it ads comfort.

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