Calling patients by "pet" names. - page 3

Does this bother anyone else? I'm a student and during clinicals I've often heard young male nurses, techs, and patient transport personnel address women who are old enough to be their mothers (or... Read More

  1. by   dhenderson88
    Quote from dbabz
    Does this bother anyone else? I'm a student and during clinicals I've often heard young male nurses, techs, and patient transport personnel address women who are old enough to be their mothers (or grandmothers) as "dear", "my dear", "honey."

    Coming from the securities industry, I find this unprofessional and enormously disrespectful. In fact, I believe that patients should be addressed as "Mr." or "Mrs." unless instructed by the patient or family to use a first name or nickname.

    Am I just being overly fussy? If not, how should I handle it in the future? I wouldn't say anything now, as a student, but it's so prevalent that I'm sure I'll encounter it when I'm fully employed.
    On a serious note, this kills me too. I hear it a lot more from females than males though. I don't doubt that both do it however. I generally just call everyone sir or ma'am until they tell me otherwise. To me, the way some people say "sweetie" sounds so demeaning sometimes. But that's probably me just projecting.
  2. by   Accolay
    We ask the patients what they want to be called and go from there. If they can't speak, or family/friends not there, we go with first names.

    I catch myself saying "Buddy" a lot and I'm working on stopping it because I think it makes me sound stupid a la Adam Sandler: Adam sandler: Buddy (FUNNY) - YouTube
  3. by   Snels50
    Yes, it's disrespectful and demeaning. But realistically, when I used to work full time and every shift I saw different patients, sometimes I had a hard time remembering names. So, I would say "honey" instead of risking calling Mrs. Smith Mrs. Jones. And folks who may be sundowning a bit may not respond well to Mr. or Mrs. or Miss.
  4. by   bjh4
    Yes you are making a big deal out of nothing. As a nurse with 20 years experience its about learning what makes your patient the most comfortable. One thing i know if a patient doesn't like how you refer to them they will soon tell you. Lighten up. Your job as a nurse is to treat people with respect, kindness and most of in a manner that feel comfortable enough to talk to you and tell you if there is a problem.
  5. by   KelRN215
    Quote from RSue, RN, MSN
    Addressing patients as Mr or Mrs shows respect, and sets a more professional tone. The patient may give you permission to call them by their first name, but I would never initially assume that.
    This is also regional. In my 33 years of life, literally the ONLY people I've ever referred to as Mr or Mrs were teachers growing up. I don't recall a time in my adult life that I've referred to anyone that way. My doctors walk into my room and address me by first name, even when they're meeting me for the first time. If they send me lab results with their generic letter and address me as Ms. Last Name, it feels weird.
  6. by   angeley1978
    I disagree. I think Mr. & Mrs., Miss, Ms. or whatever are too formal. They may have been OK for our parent's generation but the Boomers have never been a formal bunch. I am a Boomer (and RN of 35 years) and have been a patient many times. I don't like being called Mrs. I feel like the staff is deliberately putting a barrier between them and me. Not only that, coming out of anesthesia I don't react to Mrs. I've been called by my first name my whole life--only my son's school teachers ever called me Mrs. I don't think it is appropriate, however, to call patients Mother, or Grandma or Grandpa or anything like that. Staff are not relatives and should not address patients as if they are. Calling someone by their first name is friendly and warm without overstepping the bounds of professionalism.
  7. by   JKL33
    Random thoughts:

    -Sometimes it is just not necessary to "call" someone anything at all - and the times where it isn't are when it's most likely to be perceived as belittling.

    For instance: There is absolutely nothing added by saying, "It's time for your medication, Sweetie" when one could just pleasantly say, "It's time for your medication" - let "pleasantry" be indicated by tone of voice and good eye contact and good body language, rather than beliving that tacking "sweetie" onto the end indicates pleasantry.

    -These words can be unintentionally belittling. This is kind of evidenced by 1) the types of situations in which we use them 2) the "types" of people we say them to and 3) accompanying body language or other factors

    Example: If you go into the room of a A&O middle-aged patient whom you know to be a brilliant professor (for example) - will you say, "It's time for your medication, sweetie?" Why or why not?

    Example: I may call my child or my spouse "sweetie" or "honey" - that is different; in that case I am using those words simply because these are the people absolutely most beloved to me. Does the patient meet that qualification? No.

    Example: Pet names are often accompanied by shouting or higher-pitched tones often used with infants (by the way, the elderly often can't hear these as well as lower tones!). So - the overall situation here is that "sweetie" is used when 1) we assume the patient can't hear well and we are ignorant about what they can hear 2) we feel it's okay to speak to them in the tone one would commonly use to interact with an infant.


    A good exercise: Pick the person whom you most respect. If you were to accompany this person in the hospital, what feeling would be evoked if some member of the health care team walked in and spoke to your respected friend or loved one in such a manner?

    I called plenty of patients pet names way back when (especially working the summer just prior to college). When I had the opportunity to take a couple of minutes and think about - - well, that was the last day I did it. It just doesn't make sense from a general respect standpoint, even though no one intends to be disrespectful or belittling by using pet names, at all.
  8. by   Nonyvole
    I use pet names for my pets and my significant other.

    Actually, it's rare that I call a patient by their name - first, last, or pet. It's always "Hi! How are you doing? My name is Nony and I'll be your nurse today..." Mostly because I'm terrible with names, and avoiding using them is far, far easier and safer for me. (It's odd. I can recognize their names when handed a list, but it's just using it in conversation that gets problematic. Seriously. Just today I looked at a patient's wristband, noted their name, and then immediately had to look at their chart on my computer to remember their name again. It's embarrassing. I mean, I can talk about a patient and their hospital course, lab values, and everything else without notes but their name? Yeah. That isn't happening.)

    When I do have to call a patient by their name, I'll use their first name. Think about it - what are you more likely to respond to when somebody starts saying it, your first name or Mr/Mrs/Miss LastName? And when I'm pulling out the first names, my patient is not alert or oriented to person, place, and time. It's a "Jane, open your eyes...Jane, take a breath...Jane, squeeze my hand..."
  9. by   Glycerine82
    I work LTC.

    I am with my patients more than I'm with my family and many of my patients have no family, so we're it. Yes, I call many of them pet names, I just can't help it.

    I also use their first names and there is almost always an endearing term of some kind in our exchanges. I also give a lot of hugs and sometimes I get a smooch on the cheek, I don't mind. I think its sometimes more helpful to them than anything else.
  10. by   Steffy44
    Here's a thought...ASK what your pt prefers to be called during bedside rounding. We actually have a sign on the room locker to write what they prefer to be called. Anyone called me honey, sweetie, darling I would not be a happy pt. It's unprofessional. You are not my honey, sweetie, etc.
  11. by   Garden,RN
    No It' doesn't bother me one bit that nurses are being kind or affectionate to their patients. If the patient doesn't like it he or she will speak. What bothers me is that you aren't minding your own business and for some unknown reason have made yourself the judge. I am sure there are areas in your practice that you could and should be working on. And I don't care if the administrators like it either! I say this both as a nurse and a patient. As a patient, I welcome the humanity and abhor the idea that we are to be like dam robots.
  12. by   JKL33
    Quote from Garden,RN
    If the patient doesn't like it he or she will speak.
    Curious whether you can imagine any situation where that wouldn't be true.
  13. by   CapeCodMermaid
    In Massachusetts, the DPH will cite us for using pet names unless it's in the resident's care plan. I had a young long term resident who wanted me to call her Cupcake...okay Cupcake it is. The DPH was in for annual survey and was bent that I called her that. I told them to either look in her care plan or ask her.
    However, I DO NOT like people to call me Hon, Sweetie, Dear,Lovey or anything else other than my name. I find it condescending and disrespectful.