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How could I have handled this better?


Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 6 years experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet a young patient and their mother. She had been going through a rough time, and had been deemed a danger to herself, so I was "sitting" with her, just as a safety precaution. She was a very sweet, intelligent kid and her mom was pretty awesome too. After a couple of hours, They let them go. On the way out the door, the girl handed me a piece of paper with her email address on it and said "If you'd like, I'd like to hear from you again". I said Thank you and then threw it away when she left. The more I think about it, I think I did the wrong thing. I KNOW that I should not email (I had JUST passed the NCLEX, gotten a new job (transfer, as a GN) and put in my two weeks notice. I am not going to risk my license. That being said, Do you think that it is hurtful to have just taken the email address and then put it in the shredder when no one was looking? Did I do the right thing, or should I have politely declined her email address at the time?

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

I am so sorry, but hospital rules do not allow this. I have really enjoyed meeting you and wishing you nothing but the best......

Or something similar.

Sure, it would have been nice to politely decline at the time. But don't beat yourself up over it. Believe me, plenty of us would've done the same thing. I'm the king of great responses... 10 seconds after the opportunity has passed.

It's not like you balled it up and bonked it off her forehead. ;)

It's not like you balled it up and bonked it off her forehead.

What a laugh I got out of that response! Thanks!


Has 10 years experience.

Let me clarify something..no hospital policy or nurse practice act in any state prevents you from EVER having a relationship with a patient. I live in a very small area and I have formed a handful of EXCELLENT friendships with former patients as do most people here that work in the medical profession...with some exceptions.

Let's say you work in psychiatric nursing...sometimes patients tend to be frequent flyers and may inappropriately bond or seek friendships with the staff members...this is a very good example of where it is not a good idea to ever become friends with a patient...whether or not they are in or out of the hospital.

If you work in an area, such as a pediatrics department and befriend the parent of a child that has a chronic illness, the chances of you seeing that patient again are good...it's best not to "friend" the parent outside of the facility because you will see them again.

But let's say this is a one time thing...if the patient contacts you AFTER the discharge and you want to start a friendship? There isn't anything wrong with that. There is no violation because the professional relationship has been formally terminated. However, I would refrain from discussing anything having to do with their stay at the hospital...that just muddles waters.

Some parents would tell me to contact them on Facebook or send me a request when their child was still in the hospital. I would say, "You can contact ME on Facebook after your child is discharged, but I cannot accept a friend request while your child is admitted or initiate one." Never had one to get upset over it.

I would also never start a friendship with a patient who is a minor...regardless of the circumstances.

You did the right thing by tossing out her email address. Because she was technically still in the facility.