How do you handle requests for medical/health advice?

  1. Hello everyone!

    I am wondering how all of you deal with family members, strangers, patients' families, and anyone else who asks you for health advice because you are a nurse?

    I've noticed that when some people find out you are a nurse, they automatically assume they are entitled to free health advice about their specific medical problems. Some also feel that they need to tell you about all of their problems, hospitalizations, and issues with the healthcare system.

    I get frustrated when family members ask me if I think their doctor is treating them properly and giving them the correct medications when I do not have a clue as to what the doctor is doing.

    I do not mind giving very general knowlege to people such as what consists of a low fat diet, which foods are high in saturated fat, and lifestyle modifications to prevent hypertension, but I will not give specific advice to people about any particular condition. I just tell them to contact their doctor with questions.

    I am interested in hearing how all of you handle this. Thanks in advance!
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    About Squirrel

    Joined: Jan '02; Posts: 36; Likes: 1


  3. by   thisnurse
    dear squirrel,
    one time i was in the hospital and i had this nurse...LOL

    depends on whos asking. sometimes i dont mind but sometimes it gets on my nerves. i have an elderly neighbor who has two daughters....both nurses. she gets medical advice from them then calls me to see if they are

    i am very careful of what i say and to who. nobody is going to drag me down into some crap or sue me for taking my advice. you know how people are...they change everything you say around anyway.
    im exceptionally careful at work when patients ask about their doctors. thats a trap i avoid at all costs.

    i got caught in "well my nurse said" twice. the only medical advice i give at work is "ask your doctor"
  4. by   Jenny P
    When I was younger, I had an uncle and aunt who'd ask me my thoughts/ advice/ information about their medical problems and treatment. Whenever I gave them advice, they wouldn't do what I'd suggested (usually it had to do with diet, procedures, or other CV-related things-- my specialty), often would do exactly the opposite of what I said, and would get upset with me if I told them to ask their dotor.
    I reached to point where I'd ask them: "What do you think?" and would gently re-direct them if they were way off base; usually their decision would be that they thought they should see their docs about the problem. LOL!!!! They thought I was MUCH smarter after that. (Unfortunately, they are no longer alive now; old age and bad CV disease caught up with them).

    Moral of the story: I don't give advice unless there is an emergency or the person is endangering their life!
  5. by   Huganurse
    When a Dr. is asked medical advice from people other than patients or even patients that are theirs ---- They usually tell you to make an appointment and people usually respect the Drs knowledge and time and would never think of asking a Dr. outside the office.

    When a Nurse is asked -- We give what we can. FOR FREE! We are professionals too! Maybe we should tell them to make an appointment too and charge them fee for service! Maybe that is part of the pay/respect issues we see in Nursing. We give ourselves without too much thought about what we are really worth!

    I know that this is not what you were looking for but it what came to mind about the subject you posted. I had a friend come to my home for help. Known her all my life. She gashed her arm and needed stitches. She has no insurance or money to pay the ER or Dr. So I told her to come over and I'd look at it and help. I did first aid and instructed her on the care of her wound. She tried to hand me $40.00 stating that I'd just saved her alot of money and I deserved it. Needless to say I refused the money but I thought wouldn't it be great if I could do that all the time and actually get paid for what I know how to do the same as a Dr gets paid!
  6. by   micro
    I used to all the time in my outside life!!!!! But most people would do their own thing I just am who I am and if it is emergency will help and/or call 911 for them!!!!!

    Does this sound cold!!!!! Don't mean to be, but would tell more stories, but would have to change the names to protect the innocent!!!!! tehehe tehehe tehehe tehehe!!!!!

    Not that I won't help and give information if I can help a bit.....but generally just try to point people into the direction of seeking their own information and dr.

    Sometimes the worst patient is me!!!!!!

  7. by   deespoohbear
    For the general public I usually tell them to ask their doctor. If someone wants to know what to do for a sprain or something that is common first aid I will usually tell them such as ice, elevation, etc.. My husband's parents are elderly and not in the greatest of health. They can be pretty stubborn about seeing the doctor when they need to. They have asked me on occasion to check their B/P or check my father-in-law's ankles for edema (he has CHF). My in-laws depend on me for helping them with some of their health care issues. Sometimes they aren't sure if they need to go to the doc, so they will call me and I will go check them. You can bet 99.9% of the time I am going to recommend that they are seen. They have even called me to take them to the ER several times, instead of calling one of their 7 children. That makes me feel good that they trust me. My parents are relatively healthy and don't require much information from me. The last time I was visiting my parents (they live 300 miles away) my Mom c/o her great toe hurting. She asked me to look at it so I did. It was red and warm to touch. I told her she needed to have it looked at and in the mean time try elevating it, ibuprofen, and ice. She had a doctor's appointment later in the week for a check-up. Other than those scenarios, I usually advise people to call their doctor. The real song and dance comes when patients or other people ask what my opinion is of a certain doctor. I usually try to say something positive no matter what my personal thoughts are about the MD in question. In our small hospital we have 2 surgeons. The one surgeon has been there over 25 years and the other one about 5 years. I prefer the surgeon with the most experience because I think he does a better job. When people ask me what I think of the "new surgeon" I usually comment that he is a nice guy and leave it at that. Or, I say well you Dr. "Smith" is the one who has done my family's surgery so I will just stay with him. Gets me out of a bind without telling a lie and without tearing the other surgeon down in front of patients. The best advice though when people ask you medical questions is "Ask your doctor."