Calling a Patient 'Sugar': Abuse?

Nurses Relations


You are reading page 4 of Calling a Patient 'Sugar': Abuse?


3 Posts

Specializes in General nursing.

datz way too far.........cos individual understanding differs.

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

1 Article; 922 Posts

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU.

Just my two cents:

I believe that there are many things that can undermine a nurse's professionalism such as drug diversion, discussing sexual escapades during work hours within earshot of patients/visitors, initiating religious or political conversations with patients/visitors, and lack of personal hygiene to name a few. However I don't see how using a term of endearment depending on the situation and especially when it is a cultural "norm" for that certain geographical area is unprofessional.

Just my humble opinion.


715 Posts

I take care of veterans, too. They would think I was mad at them if I didn't call them sweetie. Of course, it all depends on the patient.

after 36 years of nursing, I've yet to hear any of my veterans complain that I called them sweetie and I ain't gonna change now.

Poi Dog

1,134 Posts

Well handcuff me and throw the keys into the Pacific Ocean because I call my patients "endearing" names all the time.



2 Articles; 159 Posts

Specializes in Paediatrics.

Working in paeds I find I do use soft words like, darling, beautiful, sweetheart or chicken or any other wording they like to be spoken to with. Example a six year old racing up and down the hall in a game I'd tease him and call him speedy to make him giggle. I mean I think it's all in the context, with children they want to feel safe and love anyword that is generally a compliment. What little four year old girl doesn't want to be called beautiful?

With adults I think it's common sense, what's appropriate depends on the culture, age or situation.

We get taught to speak respectfully and professionally to our clients or residents. I think majority of us have enough common sense to know what words are appropriate and what is not.

I can't say I've used terms of endearment to adults but I do know when with someone crying I've said many soft and encouraging words. I think it all comes down to our own experience and sensibility. As long as we're not going around calling sweet ladies 'puddin' I'm sure we can't be stuffing up that badly.

^.~ There's a lot worse that could be said then dear.

madwife2002, BSN, RN

61 Articles; 4,777 Posts

Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN.

I always use endearments to the patients, I can think of a lot worse kinds of abuse of patients than actually being nice to them!

Honestly I cannot believe that somebody actually sat down and said calling somebody

Sweety, hon, dear etc was abuse they need to get a life-nothing else better to do in their ivory tower!

Do you know where I worked once we were all friendly got on well and socialized together, when we came to work we would hug each other and say hello and we got told to stop hugging each other it wasn't appropriate.

madwife2002, BSN, RN

61 Articles; 4,777 Posts

Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN.
Well handcuff me and throw the keys into the Pacific Ocean because I call my patients "endearing" names all the time.


Yep I need handcuffing too and the cell door locked and never opened again.

BabyLady, BSN, RN

2,300 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Post-partum.
I know that each agency is going to have its own policy, but is calling a patient 'sugar' or 'sweetie' considered abuse? Has anyone had the experience of being told not to call patients these titles when communicating with them out of fear of legal reprimand?

If you work in the south, this is the norm...but only after you build a rapport.

To do it up front is offensive.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

16 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

None of the babies in the nursery seem to mind when I call them 'sweetpea' or 'precious' and neither do their parents.

When I first walk into an adult patient's room, I address them as 'Ms. Lastname' but usually at some point I end up calling them 'sweetie'. As in: "Hi sweetie, it's just Elvish. It's 0200 and I'm coming to wake you up like you asked me to so you can feed the baby." I don't always address my patients like that, and if I were working with a different demographic my approach might be different (but it wasn't when I worked med-surg adults). In almost ten years as a nurse I have never gotten negative feedback from occasional use of terms of endearment.

As others have said, this may be due to regional differences, but so many people down here (deep South) use 'honey', 'sweetie', 'shug', or 'sweetheart' in a variety of settings. Healthcare included.


122 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry.

I've worked in a hospital setting for 15 years now and I always call patients Mr. or Mrs. so and so. I just don't feel comfortable using their first names and definitely wouldn't feel comfortable calling my patients sweetie or! I think those words come more naturally to some people so they are comfortable saying them. I was brought up in a pretty strict italian home and if I ever called someone older than me something other than Mr. or Mrs. I'd have nightmares of my mother chasing me with the wooden spoon!! :)

Purple_Scrubs, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 1,978 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing.
Bless your hearts. Y'all better never get sick up north here in Canada. Luv, dear, sweetie. All in constant use. Never had a patient complain about it either.

It is much the same in the deep south. This is very much a cultural thing.

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

1 Article; 3,377 Posts

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU.

Of course, the rules are totally different when you work with children. It's almost expected that you use nicknames for them, and sometimes it's comforting for them.

I personally don't use nicknames for adults unless I specifically asked if it was okay. When I worked in LTC, some residents had nicknames that they went by, such as Bunny. While I can see that it might be disrespectful to use nicknames, it's not illegal.

After all, if a waitress calls you honey in a restaurant, can you sue her?

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