Things you'd LOVE to be able to tell patients, and get away with it. - page 133

:spin:Just curious as to what you would say. Mine goes something like this: Hi, my name is AngelfireRN, I'll be your nurse tonight. I am not a waitress, nor am I your slave. Yelling... Read More

  1. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from nocturnern
    if the patient is in icu, it's very likely that he's both sick and stressed, both of which would make it harder to communicate in another language.

    i agree that it's reasonable to ask the patient to have someone at the bedside to interpret for things like water and kleenex. that said, it isn't always possible for a family member or friend to be there around the clock, any more than it would be for you or me to get someone to stay with us around the clock. how do you handle the problem when the patient is just visiting from another country, doesn't have friends or relatives available, and speaks a relatively uncommon language? couldn't you handle it the same way, when the patient is a mexican immigrant (never mind how many years s/he's lived here) and doesn't speak english well?

    what i'm getting at is this: when you make stereotypical assumptions about patients "not bothering" to get with the program, whose needs are you really meeting? the patient's need for clear communication, or your own need to vent frustration?
    i'm sorry. i thought i was on a vent thread. if i'm not, so sorry. i won't ventilate about my stereotypical assumptions if this isn't a vent thread. if it is a vent thread, it's impolite to step on our vents. just sayin'.
  2. by   NocturneRN
    Quote from ruby vee
    i'm sorry. i thought i was on a vent thread. if i'm not, so sorry. i won't ventilate about my stereotypical assumptions if this isn't a vent thread. if it is a vent thread, it's impolite to step on our vents. just sayin'.

    ok, point taken, you're right. you have every right to vent about anything you want here. my only excuse for making that remark is that i've seen coworkers show displeasure toward patients who can't speak good enough english, and that gets on my nerves. but venting on a message board isn't the same thing as venting on the job.
  3. by   talaxandra
    Like CrunchRN I agree with both nocturne & Ruby. And, as usual for me, I have a story.

    A friend and I were working together one evening. Louise was caring for an elderly Chinese woman who, despite being on a strict fluid balance chart, kept using her bedside pan for rubbish, sputum, unwanted liquids etc in addition to its intended use. She had just stripped off, stood in the doorway, legs akimbo, grunting as she made downward chopping movements with both arms.

    After several attempts at communication Louise came to me for advice. I suggested she ask Lily for help - an older nurse, Lily was born in Malaysia and speaks Mandarin and Cantonese (and three or four other languages). Lily can be a little abrupt, and Louise was a little afraid of her, but aksed her for help.

    What followed sounded like heated. I'm barely monolingual on a good day; discussions in Asian languages tend to sound like arguments to my uneducated ear, and this was no different. When Lily came out of the patient's room she looked irritated, and Louise was convinced she was going to get in trouble.

    "I told her, it's rude, very rude, not to learn the language when you've lived somewhere for ten years. SO rude, and lazy. It's not too late to learn now, I said. Don't tell me you're too old - you should have learned it when you came here! You get your grandchildren to teach you! The nurses here look after patients from everywhere - they can't be learning all the other langages! You live here, you learn English!"

    Oh, and apparently the naked haka (see the gestures at 38 - 41 seconds) was intended to convey "I'm displeased with the level of service being afforded to me, and want an extra pillow." A complaint not repeated for the rest of the stay
  4. by   WoofyMutt80
    It is my PET PEEVE when I used to hear fellow CNA's say to pts in Depends...."go ahead and poop in it, that is what is used for" Well last I knew, Depends DONT WIPE YOUR BEHIND OR FLUSH! IT IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE TO A TOILET! I told one girl to go and sit in her own (fill in the blank, you get the idea and expletive!). She answered bathroom call lights ASAP after that!
  5. by   rph3664
    Quote from WoofyMutt80
    It is my PET PEEVE when I used to hear fellow CNA's say to pts in Depends...."go ahead and poop in it, that is what is used for" Well last I knew, Depends DONT WIPE YOUR BEHIND OR FLUSH! IT IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE TO A TOILET! I told one girl to go and sit in her own (fill in the blank, you get the idea and expletive!). She answered bathroom call lights ASAP after that!
    Good grief, when babies are old enough to tell their parents they have to go to the bathroom (or give some other signal), their parents take them there! I know that and I don't even have kids.
  6. by   sharpeimom
    Quote from rph3664
    good grief, when babies are old enough to tell their parents they have to go to the bathroom (or give some other signal), their parents take them there! i know that and i don't even have kids.
    i just had to share a quick story your comment made me remember.

    about 30 years ago, i kept my cousin's kids for a weekend. her son was about 2 1/3 and her daughter 14 months. he was just beginning potty training and had arrived with his little potty. saturday morning, his little sister (who was very vocal) said she wanted her very own little potty to sit on while her brother sat on his.

    we finally ended up buying another little potty -- pink, of course! shortly thereafter, she was trained.
    before her brother even! they went to visit their cousin, on the other side of the family, and i asked the kids if they had had fun. he told me he had seen a fire truck. she said her "dumb little cousin" wasn't even potty trained yet! maggie was only 6 months old...

    if i'm being sappy and sentimental, she was home from the opposite coast last week with her own little
    13 month old this week.
  7. by   oktravelnurse
    I'm with you southernbeegirl......debate this on another thread!
  8. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from oktravelnurse
    i'm with you southernbeegirl......debate this on another thread!
    to what are you referring?
  9. by   Riseupandnurse
    Just a little story from the old days of nursing, before we had phone translators. Somehow we got a Russian woman here in our small Midwestern town. No family to translate; I don't know how we got her. She was in her 80s and was very vocal, gesticulating and trying to make something known to us. This is a university town, and we finally found someone who spoke Russian. The translator went in to talk to the woman and reported that what she had been saying was that we were all a bunch of vicious swine who ought to have our hearts ripped out and fed to the dogs. So I don't know if we gained too much from our efforts. We assumed she had dementia, since she wasn't listening to anything the translator tried to tell her about why we were doing what we were doing.
  10. by   rph3664
    BTW, "embarazada" does not mean "embarrased in Spanish. It means "pregnant" which could in some situations be embarrassing.
  11. by   NocturneRN
    Quote from AngelfireRN
    OK, OK, let me clarify here. I said I LEARNED Spanish in high school. I was condensing for time's sake. What I did NOT include was the facts that I 1) also took 2 years further in college 2)have been to Mexico and Puerto Rico 4 times each and acted as translator and 3)worked with a Peruvian boss who understood me better in Spanish than in English. Now, no, I won't pretend that I could translate all the convo you listed above. Far from it, I'm a little rusty, but that's kinda my point. Add to that that I work in a clinic, and we don't have a language line. Nice thought, but not practical here. So, as long as we're canning things, here's a lid.

    And as far as telling at a glance that a patient fell into each and every single category I brought up, I never said I could. It's called generalization. And it's proven by people such as Ruby who has firsthand knowledge of people who knowingly choose not to learn the language of the country they live in because they CAN NOT BE BOTHERED. Been there, seen it, dealt with it. So, yes, I know. I have seen it, been in the ER when an illegal immigrant was literally dropped at the door by his head contractor, after falling off a scaffold. No SSN, no ID, no CONSCIOUSNESS, no way to know what was going on except for a note from said head contractor that said he had fallen, his name was XXXXXXXX, and he had no insurance. The poor guy woke up and spoke no English, had no family, was disoriented, and hung up on the translator.

    Flip side, I have also been in the psych ward when one of our favorites, who spoke only Spanish, was going ape. He just wanted a cigarette, and finally calmed down after I asked him (in Spanish) to sit on his bed for 10 minutes beforehand. Saved him a takedown and a hip full of the Holy Trinity.

    As far as knowing a plethora of languages, well, how would I USE the language line, without knowing which language to select? I'm OK with some, but I'll be danged if I can tell Arabic from Farsi.

    In the interest of time, and the patient I have to go see, I'll stop, but just wanted to point out, it's only stereotyping if you have no knowledge of what you're talking about. If and when I don't, I gladly can it. Since I kinda sorta DO, gobble, gobble.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled VENT THREAD, and hope that it can remain just that.


    I've already made my point here, but it sounds as if it got lost by the wayside. So I'll try to sum it up once more, with my own "vent":

    1) No purpose is served, except possibly gratifying the feelings of the caregiver, to make blind assumptions about a patient, based only on stereotypes. How many nasty (and bogus) ethnic stereotypes have been perpetuated over the years, simply because the people who repeated them were dead certain that they knew what they were talking about?

    2) If you're asking me to have an answer for every glitch with the telephone translator system, I don't. There will ALWAYS be glitches in patient/nurse communication, even when both are speaking perfect English. That said, a language line is still better than nothing----and MUCH better than assuming that the patient is just being lazy and uncooperative, on the grounds that you've had other foreign patients who were lazy and uncooperative.

    3) I'm a little puzzled about that illegal-immigrant-who-fell-off-the-scaffold incident. You say he was unconscious on arrival, and they were unable to get any information about him? If he was still confused when he woke up, why was he just handed the telephone? Did that hospital not have a phone in the room with a speaker function, so the staff could be involved in the conversation?

    4) Ruby's anecdote was entertaining, but it's a little naive to try to generalize about all foreign patients, using one anecdote. Some Europeans tend to assign negative stereotypes about Americans (that we're too fat and loud; that all we think about is money; that we have no fashion sense, and----yes-----that we expect everyone to speak English, because we can't be bothered with learning a second or third language.) Is this a fair generalization? Would you see it as fair if the European in question assured you that he knew what he was talking about, because he'd dealt with lots of Americans?

    5) Your anecdote about the psych patient was a great example of why it isn't a good idea to jump to conclusions, and also why having some kind of translator system (even an imperfect one) is better than guesswork.
  12. by   joanna73
    One of the most memorable, so far:

    An older man who refused to wear any clothing (clearly, mental health issues, yes). I walked in to check on him during rounds, and he was happily scratching his genitals with a metal fork. "I'm so itchy! These damn mites, I think. Nurse, will you grab a fork and help me scratch?"

    "No," I said. "Would you like some assistance with a wash, or towels or anything?"

    "No! Just help me scratch."

    I left him to it, and gave the nurses a heads up. We later tossed that fork in the garbage.
  13. by   patientlywaitinagain
    I hope that in my old age, I will NEVER do anything stupid to offend my nurses. After all, I guarantee that those nurses and the ones they love won't ever get old, tired, scared and senile.

    Maybe I am saying this because I am not a nurse yet. I might learn otherwise once I become one. Please help me understand as I can either be a patient or a nurse, and I want to act appropriately.

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