Do you form outside relationships with your patients? - page 2

If you are very friendly to a patient, and have a good relationship with them during work hours and they ask you to "hang out" and visit them on their birthday special occassions is it wrong to not... Read More

  1. by   I love my cat!
    Never. I have zero desire to.
    I am so busy with my family, friends and hobbies that I don't need more relationships. I feel that the relationships that I have outside of work sometimes don't get enough attention!
    I am one of those people who chooses to and is able to forget work 100% when I clock out. I feel happier and much less stressed as a result.
  2. by   Adams_Mommy_07
    Well, it technically it might be a violation of HIPAA and what not, certainly one is not prohibited from a life-long professional relationship with a former patient. What one does outside of the hospital is ones' own business. Say a patient is a friend of a friend, and later on you find yourselves at the same dinner engagement--no one could tell you you can't date them or be friends with them because they once were a patient. So, if you really wanted a *relationship* with a patient there are ways around it...
  3. by   talaxandra
    Until recently I've always been very comfortable with the patient/nurse relationship and have never had an interested in extending it.

    That said, I've recently become close to one patient and his family (sibling/s and partner) who've asked me to join them for a family barbie on his discharge. I'm a little tempted - there's an intellectual connection and we all get along very well. But he has a chronic illness and will be readmitted at some stage, with death waiting in the wings, and I think it's all too messy. I'm happy that they all like and trust me, and think that connection will be useful to them (patient and family) when he deteriorates.

    I also recently went to a patient's funeral, a first for me and for the half dozen other staff from my ward who attended. The patient had a rare disease, had been in multiple times over the previous half decade or so, and we'd all got to know her and her family. Though we were all invited back to the house after the service, we felt uncomfortable crossing that line.

    Like others here I've seen patients who have boundary issues, and nurses (particularly those with less experience) creating a more personal connection than I'd be comfortable with. The therapeutic relationship can't just be switched on and off, and the potential for abuse (or the potential for an appearance of that abuse) is high.

    There are many really good reasons for not extending yourself past that role, and few compelling reasons for making an exception. Tread with care.
  4. by   dancer_meggs
    Even being a Home Health Aide and going to patient's actual homes and spending time with them doesn't warrant making a real personal (true friend) connection with them. I don't make friends with the other employees at the nursing homes and though I'm nice and friendly with the patients, i wouldn't spend time out of my day and family life to make a real personal connection with anybody at work...


    I know that might seem cold, but it's a job...no matter how much you love it, if you and that patient don't agree about something the patient can turn on you and report you for anything...

    I just take the advice my mother gave me. "Don't make friends or share in gossip at work, you're bound to make enemies"
  5. by   diane227
    No. I have seen my patients out in the community and talk to them when I see them, but as far as an ongoing social situation, no. Bad idea to cross the professional boundary.
  6. by   Ms. Nurse Assistant
    Quote from dancer_meggs
    Even being a Home Health Aide and going to patient's actual homes and spending time with them doesn't warrant making a real personal (true friend) connection with them. I don't make friends with the other employees at the nursing homes and though I'm nice and friendly with the patients, i wouldn't spend time out of my day and family life to make a real personal connection with anybody at work...


    I know that might seem cold, but it's a job...no matter how much you love it, if you and that patient don't agree about something the patient can turn on you and report you for anything...

    I just take the advice my mother gave me. "Don't make friends or share in gossip at work, you're bound to make enemies"
    I'm glad you brought this up. I'm a HHA, and the patient I have has become a bit attached to me. She likes me the most out of all the HHA's she has had. I guess I was the only one who was the most friendly to her, and I would ask her how she was doing, how good she slept. The few hours I am there, I laugh make little jokes etc

    Then one day, she asked me if we could "hang out"? I lied and said "yes" I didn't know what to say, i didn't expect for her to ask me that. But there is no way for us to hang out, she is incredibly crippled and I don't have an automobile fit to carry an disabled person.

    She also told me how her family has never celebrated her birthday, and asked if I would visit her that day. I said, "well I'll probably be working that day" not trying to make any promises I cannot keep.

    I don't want to seem mean, but I am not interested in a personal friendship with her. She seems to be very vulnerable and lonely, she only gets care once a day, and her family ignores her. She has been laying in bed for 20 years.
  7. by   pagandeva2000
    I don't think it is wise to do so. Bottom line is that this is a job. We work to live our lives the way we want. Some people may tend to become needy, demanding and instrusive. I wouldn't want to take the chance. I am a very private person and want my time to be my time. And, yes, sometimes, I see patients I have cared for and do not acknowledge them unless they choose to speak to me. And, I keep if BRIEF.
  8. by   RNsRWe
    Absolutely not.

    Aside from what's been said about leaving work at work, you'd have to realize that a "friendship" based on you being his/her nurse means that THAT relationship does not end. I would expect every single symptom or med change would result in a phone call consultation. Not giving the information would seem "unfriendly" and giving it would make you their personal medical resource (one with 100% liability and 0% benefit).

    I enjoy many of my patients, and sincerely wish them well. I tell them with big smiles that I hope never to see them at work again (insert appropriate joke) and that's that.
  9. by   RedhairedNurse
    NEVER.

    I had a really nice patient here a while back that I was really kind to. I like to
    think that I'm this kind to all my patients, but this one wanted my phone number
    so that we could continue to talk. I firmly instructed this patient that it was
    nothing personal but it's totally against our hospital policy and that I could lose my job. I was friendly and up front about this situation......you must firmly set boundaries with people like this. I'm sure that if they really like you, then they wouldn't want you to lose your job nor your license. Right?
  10. by   madwife2002
    I dont think this is a black and white situation, the correct thing to do is to not get involved but like in every other aspect of life you can develop a relationship with a pt or a member of their family. I personnally havent but I do know several people over the years who have taken a friendship out of work and have had wonderful relationships.
    I would not encourage a relationship with a pt outside of work, and would certainly advise against it, but should it happen each situation needs to be taken on it's own merit.
  11. by   Ima Nurse
    It is not a good idea to form personal relationships with pts. Way too messy! In my experience it helps to put it off on your employer. Simply tell the pt it is against your employers policy to give out your personal info. Keep it short, simple, brief, and matter of fact. There is nothing to feel bad about.

    I even had a "friend" who asked me to review a family member's hospital chart because she was looking for a basis to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Uh! NO THANK YOU! I wasn't going to touch that chart with a ten foot pole! I told the "friend" to consult an attorney and don't bring it up to me ever again. It was very disturbing because I had to tell her this multiple times until finally I had to end my freindship. My story is a bit off topic, but just a reminder that you've got to maintain the professional boundaries of being a nurse at all times. As someone else already wrote - 100% liability/0% benefit.

    ETA: This person or their family member were never my pt. I put "friend" in quotes because she wasn't a friend. She was a person who used people.
    Last edit by Ima Nurse on Apr 28, '09 : Reason: Clarification
  12. by   Ms. Nurse Assistant
    Ima Nurse,

    wow I can't believe the nerve of your 'friend'. I bet if something went wrong, she would have laid ALL the blame on YOU. What did she want you to find anyway? just being nosey
  13. by   diane227
    I have also attended the funerals of some of my patients.

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