Male staff-Female Pt. - ECG

  1. How do you handle this situation? I'm a male RN and I find that some women are not happy when I enter the room with the ECG machine. Another issue-how do you deal with breasts that cover the area where you need to place the V leads?
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    About bill4745

    Joined: May '06; Posts: 893; Likes: 745
    Former ED RN, disabled; from US
    Specialty: 15 year(s) of experience in ICU, ER

    24 Comments

  3. by   mced
    If it is a true emergency, I will do it myself (don't really care how pendulous their breasts are, I just heave them out of the way and hope the leads stick). If it is a typical "emergency", I will find a female paramedic or trade tasks with another female RN. Usually it is a typical emergency.
  4. by   TazziRN
    In June I had surgery and because of a past experience with bigeminy the doc ordered and EKG. A male tech that I didn't know very well showed up to do it. I was impressed: he attached every single lead without exposing me AT ALL. When I mentioned it he said that most techs don't take the time to learn how, but he thinks of how he would like his wife treated. What he did was pull the center of the collar down to my cleavage, then kept the gown covering my breast when he placed the leads underneath by going under the bottom edge of the gown. Most techs will pull the gowns down from the shoulders, exposing the pt entirely.
  5. by   Crocuta
    I understand your concern. There are a couple of things you can do - Tazzi had a great suggestion, and not just for ECG's. I think that sometimes we don't consider all of our options when performing procedures. Do we really need to expose a patient to get the job done?

    Maintain a very professional, matter of fact attitude when performing any such procedure that will intrude on a patient's private space. I've also trained myself to always use the back of my hand to push breast tissue out of the way - that way you minimize the perception that you're touching inappropriately.
  6. by   vamedic4
    Good for him Tazzi! Someone taught him well. I, too, feel somewhat uncomfortable in situations where I am doing EKGs on teenage females, so I learned to do it the way you mentioned.
    All it takes is knowing landmarks, a minimum amount of exposure, and, of course...explaining what you're doing so the patient feels more at ease!!

    vamedic4
    hates it when "stat" means "oh, they didn't get to it on day shift" grrrrrr
  7. by   steelydanfan
    Even I as a female nurse feel the need to CAREFULLY explain where I am about to touch a female pt. when doing an EKG. I always say, "now I am going to push up on your breast to place the .." ..you get the picture.
    We forget that our pt.s are not used to this kind of touching. The worst is having an obese pt. who needs 3 nurses to do a cath, one to perform the proceedure, and 2 more to hold things out of the way! Doing it in a matter-of-fact way takes a bit of suave!
  8. by   Doog
    I am a male tech in my local ER, and I feel professionalism goes a looonnggg way. I have to perform EKGs all the time, and have never had a problem male or female. I also try my best to only expose the patient minimally.
  9. by   carachel2
    Quote from bill4745
    How do you handle this situation? I'm a male RN and I find that some women are not happy when I enter the room with the ECG machine. Another issue-how do you deal with breasts that cover the area where you need to place the V leads?

    One of our male techs eases the angst of the situation by always grabbing a regular sized towel. The towel covers the breast pretty well and also provides a "barrier" so when the breast has to be manipulated for the leads, he is not touching the bare breast.
  10. by   Tweety
    Quote from carachel2
    One of our male techs eases the angst of the situation by always grabbing a regular sized towel. The towel covers the breast pretty well and also provides a "barrier" so when the breast has to be manipulated for the leads, he is not touching the bare breast.

    Excellent idea.
  11. by   rn2md2b
    The technique mentioned in carachel2's post is the one I use. Being a male nurse I too feel your pain. Depending on time and age sometimes its easier to find a female nurse to assist, but if you can't stay professional and keep as much covered as possible.
  12. by   mmutk
    I give em little options, we are too busy to play boy/girl barbie. I keep em covered as best I can and have never had a woman say a thing to me...
  13. by   michael0123
    Quote from Crocuta
    I understand your concern. There are a couple of things you can do - Tazzi had a great suggestion, and not just for ECG's. I think that sometimes we don't consider all of our options when performing procedures. Do we really need to expose a patient to get the job done?

    Maintain a very professional, matter of fact attitude when performing any such procedure that will intrude on a patient's private space. I've also trained myself to always use the back of my hand to push breast tissue out of the way - that way you minimize the perception that you're touching inappropriately.
    I couldn't agree more. I also use the back of my hand and strive for minimal exposure. The pt's always appreciate a no-nonsense attitude.
  14. by   RunnerRN
    In our dept, we have a male/male female/female understanding for the most part. For non-emergency emergencies, I try to offer the same sex tech. For CP, they get what they get. For teens, I really try to get the same sex - and always have someone of the same sex in the room if the operator is of the opposite sex.
    I learned the towel trick as well, and use it on any female. There is no reason to expose the entire chest. I get really upset when techs pull the gown down to the waist - what do they think they're going to do to the right side of the chest? If I'm in the room, I'll discreetly grab a towel and place it over the breast.
    Small things like that make a HUGE difference to pts.

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