Nurses: Why do many of you do this?

  1. 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 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. I'm sure patients already feel embarrassed about their condition, and it ANNOYS me when nurses say they will not judge patients when giving them care, but then they go around and talk about their patients conditions.

    If I was a patient, I'd be angry if an RN talked about my condition outsideof work. Patients trust nurses to give them care while respecting their confidentiality. Yes, we may encounter new and different things each day, and some may feel that talking about so-called "weird" conditions helps them "bond"with others from work, but that does not give any nurse the right to talk about patients like that.

    I've noticed there was a thread on allnurses entitled, "What Is Your Most Gross,Yucky, Disgusting Nursing Horror Story?" This is disrespectful in my opinion. No offense to any of the nurses that do this. Thanks for letting me vent...
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 20, '13 : Reason: spacing
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  2. 65 Comments

  3. by   paradiseboundRN
    We are not making fun of the patients, its often the situations that are funny. Its usally the humerous things that nurses talk about. Its just that nursing is a stressful field and it helps to blow off steam that way. Its not meant to be disresceptful.
  4. by   classicdame
    also a HIPPA violation and not good manners. I agree with OP
  5. by   paradiseboundRN
    I betcha plumbers talk about the worse toilet they ever unclogged!
    Last edit by paradiseboundRN on Feb 18, '13 : Reason: double post
  6. by   ktwlpn
    Been doing that for years in real life and right here on allnurses-it's just venting,decompressnig.If you think it's disrespectful and most of your co-workers are doing it then I guess you will have to skip happy hour and refrain from reading those threads that offend you..As long as no one's privacy is violated I just don't see the harm.I'll also tell you I have learned ALOT over the years during those BS sessions.And we deal with some really sad,sometimes horrific and tragic crap-we need to get it out and move through it.
  7. by   ChristineN
    Quote from classicdame
    also a HIPPA violation and not good manners. I agree with OP
    It is actually not a HIPPA violation if there is no pt name/pt identifiers being said.

    I agree it is probably not in good taste. People do need a way to unwind after work so I do understand that these nurses may just be trying to let loose, but there are better ways.
  8. by   klone
    HIPAA. No, it's not if you're not giving specific names or the condition isn't so incredibly weird and unique that it might identify who you're talking about.

    Yes, I have. Not necessarily gross, so much as weird or interesting. I have LOTS of good stories from my time in OB, and my friends/coworkers enjoy hearing my stories, as I also enjoy hearing interesting stories from other people's jobs.

    I remember my friend, an OR nurse, would tell me stories about the weirdest things they would find inserted into people's rectums.
  9. by   Melodies of Legend
    It can't be a HIPPA violation if no names, room number, exact ages, ect are being used. Even in my microbiology class, when we did case study projects the information like symptoms and lab results came from real a patient's chart. Though, because this was for a class, permission was probably asked first, but I digress.

    As a nursing student, I learn A LOT from stories my teachers tell us. It helps us envision real life scenarios and may save our butts when day because we can recall what our teacher did to remedy the situation. Like other people said, it's fine as long as patient identifies are kept hidden. Also, they were talking amongst their peers about their day, not going to open mic night in some bar to make fun of patients.

    Well, at the end of the day no one can change how you truly feel. If it does offend you even if they're not violating HIPAA just don't be apart of it. It's a great thing to stand up for what you believe in even if not many people are standing with you.
  10. by   Amnesty
    I don't think this is disrespectful at all as long as it isn't making fun of anyone. My younger sister is a CNA/med tech for a LTC facility, and honestly it was stories that she told me that made me feel like nursing might be the place for me. It's a stressful job, and it helps to be able to unwind with other people who understand that and can add input of their own. I agree that as long as there are no names or identifiers used, I don't see the harm. Find something better to be offended about, IMO.
  11. by   nurseprnRN
    The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

    HIPAA

    HIPAA

    HIPAA

    HIPAA

    HIPAA


    This is not a HIPAA issue. It's in bad taste if you go out to breakfast after night shift and the other patrons hear you; it might put them off their feed, and if they can identify the hospital you work in and complain
    of your unprofessional behavior to the management, it might reflect badly on the hospital, and that could come back and bite you in the butt.

    AN is anonymous. Unless you were mouthing off here about an incredibly rare or widely-publicized case, like, oh, for example the Octomom or that teenager that lost an arm to a shark, it would be unlikely that people would be able to identify the patient him/herself.
  12. by   CheesePotato
    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!.
  13. by   heartsgal
    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
  14. by   Mijourney
    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.

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