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How do you handle a patient who talks a lot?

I am a CNA and I really do enjoy communicating with my patients but sometimes I find myself sitting in their room for long amounts of time listening to their stories. It’s fun at the beginning, but as time goes on I’m listening less and less and thinking about all of the other things I need to get done. Eventually I catch myself just smiling and nodding without listening to a single word they are saying anymore.

I honestly have a hard time cutting a patient off mid story and explaining that I really want to get back to what I was doing. What are some good “end-the-conversation” phrases that I can start using without sounding rude for cutting them off??

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

You will not survive long if you do not learn to set boundaries.

*toilet Mrs. Jones* *settle Mrs. Jones back in bed* Smile, ask if she needs anything else and state you will be back in an hour to check while you hand her the call light. Then you leave.

ThePrincessBride, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU.

Slowly back out of the room.

Have someone call me if I am still in the room 10 minutes later.

Ask if they need anything and then quickly exit.

Say, " I would love to talk to you more but I got to see a few more patients. I'll be back!"

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

If they are a known talker, I tell a coworker to call or come get me in 5-10 minutes if I haven’t came out.

I also interrupt and say I’m so sorry I have to go give meds/check on xyz, I will come back but is there anything I can get you?

Often times people who are Chatty-Cathy’s tend to know that they are; my experience has been they’re used to their family cutting them off so when I mention that I have to interrupt, they don’t take offense to it at all.

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse.

If you know you're headed to that room, set your phone alarm to go off in 5 or so minutes. When it does, tell the patient you have another patient matter that you need to attend to. (Which you inevitably will...)

Take charge of the conversation before they can even get started. That is what I do if I know they talk too much. When I get caught with a talker that I wasn't prepared for, I just say, Sorry Mr, so and so, I can't stay longer, lots to do, gotta git. But, I will see you later. Just butt in, you have to or you won't get anything done. Or for fun, close your eyes, drop your head and act like you are sleeping. LOL, haven't tried that one yet.

5 minutes ago, Forest2 said:

Take charge of the conversation before they can even get started. That is what I do if I know they talk too much. When I get caught with a talker that I wasn't prepared for, I just say, Sorry Mr, so and so, I can't stay longer, lots to do, gotta git. But, I will see you later. Just butt in, you have to or you won't get anything done. Or for fun, close your eyes, drop your head and act like you are sleeping. LOL, haven't tried that one yet.

I really like the last suggestion and may try that in the future. I like the quote, "Just tell me the time not how to build a clock"

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

Talking is a catharsis to some and when they get on a roll, Newton's First Law of Motion is in effect.

The only way I know of stopping a cow from chewing its cud (rumination) is to distract it by giving it something else to feed upon.

32 minutes ago, Davey Do said:

Talking is a catharsis to some and when they get on a roll, Newton's First Law of Motion is in effect.

The only way I know of stopping a cow from chewing its cud (rumination) is to distract it by giving it something else to feed upon.

The well-practiced cow can ruminate on anything at any time.

StrwbryblndRN

Specializes in CMSRN.

I prefer direct. I am nice and stop them and let them know I have to go. I am not a fan of just backing out the room or planning someone to disrupt.

I agree with Jaded's last paragraph. Chatty people know they are chatty. I can be one too given the right circumstances. I am not insulted if someone cuts me off nicely. Last thing I want is a nurse to ask a coworker to "save me".

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