The Patient Who Receives No Visits

by TheCommuter 9,922 Views | 27 Comments Senior Moderator

I am assured that every nurse who has ever worked at the bedside has provided care for patients who never receive any visitors. Some of us are left wondering why this happens or how the situation evolved to be the way it is today.

  1. 21

    The Patient Who Receives No Visits

    Im 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 a bed on a womens medical/surgical unit at a community hospital in a large city. Even though my inpatient hospital stay was a swift overnight affair, I received no visitors. The facility was located almost forty miles from my home, so a friend dropped me off on the morning of my planned admission before she reported to work, and another friend picked me up at the time of my discharge after her workday had ended. In addition, I had no family members in the area. The vast majority of my relatives lived more than 1,400 miles away from me.

    In spite of this, my overnight hospital stay was so short that I did not feel lonely. On top of it all, I was so sedated from the narcotic pain medications that infused into me every time I pressed the button on the patient-controlled analgesia pump.

    Anyhow, some of us naturally wonder about the patient who receives no visitors. Many of these patients have adult children, siblings, and other people in their lives who reside in the same metro area based on the information provided on the face sheet. However, none of these individuals ever drop in or call to see how the patient is doing over the course of a lengthy stay at the facility. And when nursing staff or physicians desperately need to contact the next of kin, none of the people listed on the face sheet seem to answer their phones.

    Some people jump to conclusions and will exclaim, How terrible! I would never leave a person alone in this world. Family is everything! It is true that some self-centered adult children are willingly estranged from a parent who provided nothing but love, warmth, support, and happy memories during their upbringings. These situations are truly heartbreaking.

    In addition, other patients are modern-day recluses who actually prefer social isolation over interaction any day of the week. These people would rather have no one in their lives.

    However, we do not know the whole story. Nurses have witnessed family dynamics that are edgy or downright dysfunctional. Rather than remain in a situation that produces so much unhappiness and discord, some relatives cut themselves off from the person altogether as a way of emotional self-preservation. Dysfunctional family units are more common than many people realize.

    Some would say, I would hope people show a little more respect for their sick family member than that! But for many adult children, it is hard to be around the seemingly pleasant male patient who sexually abused them throughout their childhood and adolescence. It is almost impossible for adult grandchildren to visit the sweet elderly female patient who disciplined them as children by burning them with lit cigarettes and beating them with horsewhips. The smiling patient in the hospital bed is the same woman who, many years ago, disowned her sister for marrying someone of another race and rejected her brother for revealing he is gay.

    To come to the point, I try to refrain from criticizing the relatives who never visit, and I also try to avoid condemning patients, no matter how difficult or demanding they might be. I am cognizant that I might open emotional wounds if the wrong words come out of my mouth. Dysfunctional families are a familiar part of our societal landscape. If an insensitive nurse lectures about the importance of family, the chances are high that some people within an earshot have dealt with incest, beatings, addicted relatives, emotional abuse, and other unpleasant circumstances within their family units. For them, breaking free took courage.
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 11, '13
    rudycoon, lesliel, MBARNBSN, and 18 others like this.
  2. Read more articles from TheCommuter

  3. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 27,651 Likes: 39,913; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website

    27 Comments so far...

  4. 14
    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.
    Blue Felt Fedora, poppycat, IowaKaren, and 11 others like this.
  5. 10
    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.
    You are right on target as usual, VickyRN.

    I had adult patients in mind when I wrote my piece. However, I do not see what a child could have ever done to deserve no visits, even if the child is institutionalized, has severe developmental disabilities or was given away by the birth family.
    Not_A_Hat_Person, sneeds, poppycat, and 7 others like this.
  6. 2
    Thanks for this enlightening article. It made me wonder why is it that some patients receive visitors more than others. I guess each one has their own back story that we will never know.
    visionary123 and imintrouble like this.
  7. 2
    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.
    I was assigned to a few of these peds pts as a student. Some had deceased parents or parents in prision or where abouts unknown. etc. Everyone has their own story . I do not find anything suprising, nor do i judge people for not visiting. Some people choose to isolate themselves and have a small circle . Some curiosity to backstories. Have had pts for months with no visitors or even contact people listed. Many pts have listed "none" or "no one" as their in case of emergency contact. there have been plenty of media stories of people found dead in their homes who had been dead for years!!!!!! Actually, I am suprised when some have so many visitors for short stays!!!
    Fiona59 and imintrouble like this.
  8. 15
    And then you have the other side of the coin. Family members who ignore their parents while they are home, then all of a sudden when an end seems imminent, they come around and try to ingratiate themselves back into the will...or try to take them home so they can collect retirement, SSI, wtv, when parents are too demented to let on about elder abuse...Just as sad.
    Fiona59, MedChica, jmsnkids, and 12 others like this.
  9. 8
    I'm almost glad that some nurses pass judgement on families that do not visit. It indicates to me that they don't have a clue, what kind of horrors can occur behind the closed door of the family home. They must have had a perfectly normal loving home life. They didn't experience fear, pain, shame, and then think that was normal.
    Good for them. I simply tell them, when they finish the "I can't believe nobody visits" rant, you don't know what went on during the first 50 yrs of this persons life.
    Fiona59, Not_A_Hat_Person, sneeds, and 5 others like this.
  10. 10
    Quote from imintrouble
    I'm almost glad that some nurses pass judgement on families that do not visit. It indicates to me that they don't have a clue, what kind of horrors can occur behind the closed door of the family home. They must have had a perfectly normal loving home life. They didn't experience fear, pain, shame, and then think that was normal.
    Good for them. I simply tell them, when they finish the "I can't believe nobody visits" rant, you don't know what went on during the first 50 yrs of this persons life.
    I couldn't agree more. I work in LTC and some of my residents never receive visitors.

    But we don't know how these residents treated their children. Maybe they were alcoholics or abusive or deadbeats. Maybe they don't deserve a visit from their kids.and for some residents, if they treated their families as bad as they treat the staff, well, I don't blame the family one bit.
    amoLucia, Not_A_Hat_Person, sneeds, and 7 others like this.
  11. 0
    Very much agree Commuter.
  12. 5
    In my case it's just me and my Dad. I don't talk to the rest of my family because all they do is talk about the past and how horrible they had it growing up(one is still harping on the fact that my parents couldn't afford a nicer place than the VFW for her wedding reception when they had 4 other kids to worry about who were underage)

    To be quite honest I really don't enjoy the company of others. I have and always will be a loner. I like the freedom of going somewhere and being able to leave when I want to and not have to wait around until the person I came with decides to leave. So when my Dad passes I will be one of those patients that puts none when listing next of kin or who to contact in an emergency. But don't worry, I won't be lonely if I have to stay in the hospital.

    Another plus is that I don't have to spend a lot of money each month for a cell phone contract because I am such a social butterfly with tons of contacts.
    NBMom1225, poppycat, imintrouble, and 2 others like this.


Top