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Specializes in PACU. Has 6 years experience.

In my current job I work with kids and we are strongly cautioned against touching them AT ALL for concerns the administration has of such an act being construed as inappropriate and likened to potential sexual abuse.

However, if one of my kids comes up to me in tears and is really having a rough time of it I will not hesitate to give them a shoulder hug, or if they hug me I will return it. Kids don't understand your reasoning when you work in that kind of facility, and I'm really not looking to confuse them.

I am not a very hug-friendly person. I don't know why but I am soooo awkward! However, if a patient that I have a good rapport with I probably wouldn't hesitate if they initiated it. I'm not going to just offer it up.

I have had a few nurses hug me (as a patient) but they were friends/co-workers of my mothers when I was hospitalized with (my many) complications with Crohn's disease in the past. Honestly... It was really comforting especially when there's so much going on. Many times, it was the one thing that prevented me from losing it (also have GAD and a panic disorder, of course).

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Lunah, MSN, RN

33 Articles; 13,748 Posts

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 15 years experience.

I have had patients who want to hug, and I honestly pick and choose! If you're drunk and were abusive to staff but want to hug it out later, sorry - I tell them I am not a hugger, and offer a handshake. Other patients or family members, such as the parent of a teenaged cardiac arrest that didn't make it? Hug me and cry on my shoulder, I am there. I don't think anyone can criticize either way as long as no one feels uncomfortable or could get the wrong idea.

pmabraham, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 2,560 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care. Has 3 years experience.

Good day:

I going into nursing because I want to serve and care for people. If someone needs a hug, since hugs are a free and plentiful resource, I'm going to give them a hug with a smile.

Thank you.

NurseOnAMotorcycle, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,066 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Emergency, CEN. Has 10 years experience.
Good day:

I going into nursing because I want to serve and care for people. If someone needs a hug, since hugs are a free and plentiful resource, I'm going to give them a hug with a smile.

Thank you.

But you also need to be a smart and practical nurse who knows when it it a bad idea. Use good judgement. You're not only taking care of the ideal patient and family who needs some TLC but also anyone with extremely communicable stuff (c.dif, scabies/lice, TB, etc) that you cannot risk spreading to other patients, or patients that are overdosed/unpredictable/violent. Some patients will absolutely ask for a hug and then assume that they can full body grind on you when you say ok. No joke.

Hugs? Absolutely. I am a very hugging kind of person, but I'm smart, too.

rubato, ASN, RN

1,111 Posts

Specializes in Oncology/hematology.

I am an oncology nurse. I'll hug any patient that needs a hug. My patients are dealing with a lot and can be very emotional. If something as simple as a hug can make a difference in their day, I'm happy to do it.

verene, MSN

1,790 Posts

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

I'm not a hugger at all. I have two residents in particular who really like and ask for hugs, I'll give a loose, sideways, shoulder hug. It's not really a behavior I like to encourage because I really don't like hugging people in general, but I also understand the need for human connection and physical contact now and then. They are both sweet older ladies who are very touchy-feely people in general so I don't find anything wrong with it other than me not being a fan of hugs, I much prefer hand holding if I have to give physical comfort. That being said, I'll give them a brief hug if they are going through a tough time or otherwise really seem to need one. They have to ask for or initiate it though.

kbrn2002, ADN, RN

3,765 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis. Has 21 years experience.

I work in geriatrics and sometimes a hug is the best medicine. I am sad for the nurses that work with kids that are told not to touch them at all for fear of accusations of inappropriate behavior. Sad for both the nurses and the poor kids who sometimes just needed a hug.


137 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 3 years experience.

I have hugged patients and family members, but they are always the ones to initiate it. I agree with the PP who said they don't want to intrude on anyone's personal space - I couldn't have said it any better. I will sit with a patient and hold their hand, but a hug has to be initiated by them.

Specializes in ED, Pedi Vasc access, Paramedic serving 6 towns.
I've worked pedi my entire career... if my patient wants to hug me (instead of kick me in the face), I'm all for it.


Specializes in ED, Pedi Vasc access, Paramedic serving 6 towns.

I find on the ambulance I am doing more hugging now since we are now working patient's in cardiac arrest for 20 minutes and leaving them at home if we cannot get them back, instead of transporting to the hospital. A lot of the family members seem to want to hug me in their moments of grief even though I have just told them I could not save their family member. I will always hug these folks because I know it's the only thing they have at that moment, especially if the do not have other family members on scene yet.


Wave Watcher

751 Posts

Specializes in Community Health/School Nursing. Has 7 years experience.

I had a patient once ask to braid my hair. I said yes......I actually had the time. After 30 minutes of braiding I looked like a hot mess but strutted my stuff like I was on the cat walk. She NAILED IT! My patient was 7 years old. :-) I will do almost anything for a child. Almost. Key word. lol

Oh, and yes....I have given hugs, air high fives and fist bumps. :-)

I work ICU so we deal with quite a bit of death & dying. Usually it's the family that will need a hug! But it's totally situational if it's a side hug versus front hug & there's usually either a big thank you with it or a whole lot of tears!

There are also a few hugs from other nurses usually in greeting because we've friends a long time & the other person is a hugger in general.