The Patient Who Receives No Visits - page 2

by TheCommuter Senior Moderator

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Iím certain that every nurse who has ever worked at the bedside has provided care for the patient who never seems to receive any visitors. In fact, the roles were reversed nearly five years ago when I was the patient laying in... Read More


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    Back when I was a brand new nurse in LTC, I had a patient who was very demented and we'd cared for him for about three years. We had never seen anybody visit him. His son was POA, but never did more than thank us for notifying him of care issues. When this patient was later dying, we finally met his children. There were 3 or 4 of them, I can't remember exactly, but we'd never seen them before. A daughter came to me in the hallway asking questions about her dad. I apologized and asked her name and her relationship to the patient. She told me who she was and said, "You're probably wondering why you've never met us before." I said I was happy to meet her now and that I was glad she could be there for her dad's last moments. She said, "No, you don't understand. We're not here to "be there" for my dad. We're here to make sure that (expletive) is (expletive) dead." She explained that he had been sexually and physically abusive to his family, and all were happy to see him go.
    I learned a couple of lessons that day after picking my jaw up from the floor. I learned that if family members don't want to visit a patient, it doesn't mean the family member is a bad person, and I have no right to judge them anyway. I also learned how difficult it was to objectively provide care for a person suspected of doing terrible things.
    Fiona59 likes this.
  2. 0
    Quote from VickyRN
    Even sadder are the pediatric patients who receive no visitors. We try to make up for this on the pediatric floor by assigning students to be with these patients.
    as a nsg student, i did my peds rotation at a chronic stay hospital, where all the children were wards of the state.
    some of these kids had debilities from birth, but most of them were kids that had been beaten so badly that damage was permanent and this was now their home.
    i tried to adopt a 2 yo pt i had cared for, and instead, got lectured about boundaries.
    (i understand it now, but hoo boy, back then it was tough to handle.)

    tc, you forgot to mention the hospital pt who just downright scares her visitors away.
    i had a scheduled overnight stay in the hospital a few yrs ago, and awakening from the anesthesia, all i wanted was something cold to drink.
    i ended up scaring/annoying my sons out of the room and my husband just stayed out in the hallway until i got what i wanted. ;p
    yep, i am one of *those* type pts.

    great article, tc....
    and instrumental for students to remember after they graduate.

    leslie
  3. 1
    I wonder why people have visitors for overnight stays!!

    Then on the other hand, I have patients who come down from the Arctic and expect everyone they ever met who lives within 250km of the hospital to come and visit. I remember one Princess who expected the Air Ambulance crew to delay her departure for six hours because she had made plans for lunch that day! Uhm, the crew was here dropping someone off, so they refuel, pick up and depart. If she wanted to spend $1200+ on a oneway ticket home, no probs. She left with the crew.
    anotherone likes this.
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    I only skimmed this (sorry :^), but I agree that you just don't know the situation. Although this isn't the same topic, it still fits in somewhat: here's a sort of humorous example one of our clinical nurses gave us of assuming things about family.

    She said she had a patient, a 50-something woman, and there was a 30-or-so woman visitor, plus a guy (I forget, but I think maybe he was closer to the older woman's age). So the RN assumed the guy was the partner or husband of the older woman, and that the 30-yr-old was the daughter. Wrong!!! The 2 women were lesbian lovers, and the guy was just a friend! :^) So you just can't assume anything.
    NutmeggeRN likes this.
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    The last time I was in the hospital, I had no visitors... because I didn't tell anyone I was there.

    Some pediatric patients have no visitors for a reason... their parents beat them or shook them and are banned from visiting. I've seen that situation a few too many times. The kids who really broke my hearts were the ones who weren't going to make it (terminal cancer) whose parents would drop them off in the ER with a fever and appear two weeks later to sign the discharge papers. We had one particular patient- about 6- whose parents did this all the time. She was constantly calling for someone to come sit with her, watch TV with her or play with her. She died- fortunately at home- but it was so sad during those countless days in the hospital to see her crying for her Mommy knowing that Mommy wouldn't be there for her.
    Fiona59, poppycat, and anotherone like this.
  6. 0
    On a similar note, as a school nurse, It makes me sad when I see only one emergency contact (the custodial parent) to call in the case of emergency....no family listed, no friends....no one...I always wonder what it is like to NOT have a support network, I was pretty darn lucky as a single mom.
  7. 2
    You mean we dont always know the full story on our pts....
  8. 1
    Great Article. It is true, you can't possibly know why things are the way they are.
    When my father was in hospice I got more than an earful from my older half siblings on visiting my father, they did not understand why I did not want to see him. From a young age until I was 12 he was emotionally and physically abusive. I had no love or respect for the man who was my father. I ended up a ward of the court at age 12, so I find it easier to not think about things such as why a patient has no visitors. Having been in the family member's shoes and been the kid who was abandoned to the state by my mother, I know all too well how complex an individual's life can be. I did say good bye to my father the day he died, but only because I was essentially made to feel guilty by other family members who did not have the same experiences as I did.

    Also consider that sometimes it is hard on adult children to watch their parents die. My younger brother avoided my mother in her multiple hospital stays because many of her injuries could have been prevented if she had followed doctors orders and used her walker instead of letting her pride get in the way. I recall him telling me, 'I can't just watch her kill herself and be ok with it.'

    It is more difficult to see children abandoned, but sometimes it is the best case scenario. Other times it could be as simple as the parents are not coping well with their child's illness. You can never know how you might react as a parent until you are there in that situation.
    Fiona59 likes this.
  9. 1
    Once, as a student, I was assigned to a patient who had no visitors. She was sweet and personable and loved to have someone to talk to. Since I was a student, she was my only patient, which meant I had plenty of time with her. I found out that her husband worked out of town, and although she had adult children within ten minutes of the hospital, she didn't want them called. Her reason? She had been hospitalized already three times that year, and she said her children would take time off work to come and see her. She didn't want them to have to take more time off, so she decided (out of care for them) that she just wouldn't tell them she was there! Now, that is a story that probably wouldn't have gotten out to the busy nurses, so I am glad I was there to hear it. But it taught me too, to be careful not to judge. She DID have a caring family - so caring that they would do whatever it took to see their mother, and so she in turn cared enough about them to purposely choose to make sure they didn't miss any more time from work. (I'll bet they were mad when they found out later though )
    Fiona59 likes this.
  10. 1
    We have an elderly dementia resident. She visited often until legal paperwork was signed, proving he was incapable of making his own decisions. Now she only shows up for X-mas & his birthday. Everyone thought she was really cold-hearted until we found out that he had been a womanizer their whole marriage.
    Fiona59 likes this.


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