Nurses: Why do many of you do this? - page 2

by terina66

11,970 Views | 65 Comments

I’ve been a registered nurse for two years now. Sometimes the nurses in my unit and I get together outside of work and chat. One day, the nurses were discussing about their patient encounters (non-medical related). I do not want... Read More


  1. 37
    Not to be brash, but let's cut the nonsense for a moment.

    All people in all walks of life and areas of work swap stories of things that raise their eyebrows, provide oodles of stress, or a well deserved belly laugh. Ever been to a fire house for dinner? How about sat around in the VFW and listened to some war vets talk? Don't even get me started on cop humor.

    It is how people in stressful fields bond.


    Not to mention how new folks grow, decompress, debrief and are welcomed to the fold.

    My patients are my priority while I am delivering care to them. And there are things that are discussed with levity and things that deserve to be handled with a delicate touch and relayed with seriousness.

    It is never meant to be disrespectful. And no, no names or blatant identifiers are ever ever mentioned.


    But perhaps if one did not wish to be the talk of the unit, one ought not to have crammed a candle in one orifice and the matching silver candlestick in its neighbor and then straight-faced chirped "I fell on it". Let's just ignore the fact that your lover was the one that brought you in, but didn't have the wherewithal to excuse herself by the time your husband arrived.




    Not sayin'.....just sayin'.

    ~~CP~~
    Last edit by CheesePotato on Feb 18, '13 : Reason: Trying to type and cook nachos...¡Olé!.
  2. 3
    Quote from terina66
    One day, the nurses were discussing about their patient encounters (non-medical related). I do not want to write what they discussed, but they were patient encounters that many people would describe as “gross.” I believe patient confidentiality (even when patients’ names aren't mentioned) should be respected during work as well as outside of work....
    If it is non-medically related, then the issue you have with it is simply a personal preference, not shared by your co-workers. Like another poster said, being a nurse is stressful and damn hard work so it sounds like to me they are just trying to vent and unwind by seeing the funnier side of life. Let's face it with many of the things nurses deal with on a daily basis the funnier or less serious side needs to be seen sometimes, so we can make it through the days without internalizing some of the more tragic sides of patient care. If no descriptive patient identifiers are being used then patient confidentiality has not been breached, so if the talk or subject matter makes you feel uncomfortable, then excuse yourself early or don't go when you know there will be talk which you personally find distasteful. That is all you can really do
    tewdles, MMaeLPN, and Marshall1 like this.
  3. 1
    I understand the OP's point. It is distasteful to discuss the personal matters of our patients. It is especially problematic when you're at work and you don't know who is listening and who is related to whom. Imagine you work on a floor and are walking by the nurses' station when you hear staff talking and laughing about a GI bleed. That person with the GI bleed may be your relative (I experienced this personally). Then you start to feel angry and embarrassed. Anyway, you have a choice of pulling one of the staff who participated in the discussion aside to talk with or you can, as other posters suggest, excuse yourself and not get caught up in worry.
    ktliz likes this.
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    If there are no names, room numbers, identifying factors, etc., then it is not violating HIPAA. I understand if they are talking about a procedure or general situation; who else but another nurse would be able to understand something like having to duck because a lob of sputum flew out of patient's trach stoma? Or the nasty smell of c diff? People need to decompress, this is a known fact, so I think this is okay. We are humans too. Unless our S.O.'s or family members are in the healthcare/medical field, they won't understand it either.

    However, if the nurses are actually saying, "I had this patient today who is getting this very rare procedure done because she only has two toes on one hand and a tooth growing out of her neck," then that is HIPAA violation. If they are saying something like, "I had a patient who was so overweight--I just know she's lazy and stupid because of her size," then that is something totally different from HIPAA and is actually proving lack of empathy and compassion, and they probably should not be nurses.
  5. 3
    Person 1: Knock Knock

    Person 2: Who's there?

    Person 1: HIPAA

    Person 2: HIPAA who?

    PErson 1: Can't tell you.

    Pre nursing student here, but I enjoy hearing stories of wierd/ terrible/gross episodes. It will serve me well when I'm in that spot to remember I am not the only one this has happened too, and so many others handled it with a lot more dignity than was expected.
    tyvin, Gold_SJ, and hiddencatRN like this.
  6. 12
    OP....Welcome to AN! The largest online nursing community!

    What a controversial subject for your first post! I respect your opinion and view on this subject and probably the best thing to do if it distresses you...... would be to not be around when others need to talk and hash out their feelings by speaking with others. Where I draw the line is making fun of the patients disabilities or weight for example.....but a particular situation that was unusually difficult to clean can be common idle talk amongst nurses.

    It is not HIPAA if there are no identifiers......and HIPAA makes exclusions for academic purposes. Whether you call it venting, downloading....it is debriefing. To allow individuals in high stress jobs the ability to interact and tell their stories is debriefing. Part of the reason police hang with police and firefighters with firefighters. Rescue worker with rescue workers. Part of maintaining a healthy psyche is to talk about these intense situations so that you can work through them.

    When there is any traumatic event it is encouraged to allow the victims talk about it, get it out of their systems so they can heal. If we as nurses don't get it out of our systems we will EXPLODE! I think that losing the ability to talk amongst our peers stressful, invasive, disturbing, or tragic encounters leads to an increased incidence of burnout and stress.

    It is professional to vent to your peers and an important way of maintaining your sanity and bonding with your co-workers forming a tighter bond which in turn makes a better team. In no way have I ever found it unprofessional or detrimental to allow staff to "blow of steam" in the appropriate setting.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Feb 18, '13
    Ruby Vee, Dalzac, NutmeggeRN, and 9 others like this.
  7. 0
    Report them. Obviously they are violating HIPPA. lol
  8. 11
    Sorry. I won't be shamed for finding a way to laugh at things that might otherwise make me cry. If it is among others in the same profession it is not in poor taste, it is decompressing, bonding, perhaps even learning. If I posted on Dear Abby about it...or on Facebook...or brought it up before my family over dinner one night....if I told my non-nursing girlfriends the juicy details, if I spoke with derision, if I made a public spectacle of the incident....then sure. Shame on me. But I don't do those things. I do, however, LOVE laughing with coworkers and fellow nurses about the oddities of our jobs. I do not feel one smidge guilty for that. Sorry.
    ktliz, RNFiona, nursel56, and 8 others like this.
  9. 6
    Time for popcorn Op it's simple. Tell them it bothers you or you can not hang out with them. As my mother always say you can either put up with it or shut up. Which means don't complain if you continue to listen to patients stories from your co-workers.
    anotherone, GrnTea, wooh, and 3 others like this.
  10. 0
    I agree OP, most people go to after work get-togethers rather begrudgingly. Rare is it that you are gonna want to be friends with work people in nursing. It's just not the nature of nursing - way to distrustful. So you show up to be seen that you are "one of the guys" and have one drink, stay for 30 minutes and then leave. Done.

    Nursing is not like the world I left. I do have many long term work friends from that other career.


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