Is it okay for RN to ask recovery patients not to swear?

  1. Hi, I am an RN working in PACU. The other day, I received a male patient from OR, and as soon as he woke up from anesthesia he started complaining excruciating pain. Of course that's not unusual. But this man was constantly swearing. "Oh, G--D----- it hurts. Oh F--- it, Oh it F---ing hurts". While I was medicating him as much as possible he kept swearing so much to the point where I had to ask him to stop. "I understand you're in so much pain and I am doing everything I can for you to lower the pain. But it's very difficult to be here and hear you swear. I do not want to hear any more of swearing words". He heard me, and he tried so hard to hold it. "Oh f,fff, it hurts, ohhh fff... so painful!". After an hour medication kicked in and the pain became much better, and he started smiling. And before sending him to a unit, I said I appreciated that he stopped swearing.

    Now I wonder, was what I did, asking a patient to stop swearing reasonable? Or is it unprofessional? I always thought it's okay for patients to cry and scream if they had to, because they're in so much pain, and I don't tell them not to. And while I do not use swearing words myself, I know there are people who use them on a regular basis. Then, he should've been allowed to say what he normally say considering it was not personal? Or do I have a right to refuse to hear dirty language(which I thought I did)?

    Please let me know what you think.
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    About SweetieBeeSandy

    Joined: May '16; Posts: 2; Likes: 25

    76 Comments

  3. by   roser13
    You can ask all you want. As you and I both know, sometimes you're just wasting your breath.

    Can you require PACU patients to not swear? Well, no. No more than you can require half-awake, not-in-their-right-mind patients to pledge allegiance to the USA.

    Can you refuse to take care of swearing patients? I guess you could try, but good luck with that. Just as we are obliged to honor various sensitivities of other cultures, we are obliged to accommodate our patients' idiosyncrasies upon awakening after anesthesia. Get over it. Hearing a few swear words will not scar you for life.
  4. by   loriangel14
    If he was just coming out of anesthesia he probably wasn't really in control of what he was saying. People swear sometimes when stuff hurts. Unless it was directed at me I don't care if they swear. Would I ask them not to? Nope. Have you not heard people swear before?
  5. by   Fiona59
    Had a L &D nurse tell me she didn't like my language when I was in labour. No drugs, fully dilated, and had been pushing and getting nowhere.

    She then went to coffee.

    Bloody awesome experience
  6. by   NightNerd
    Maybe it's because I curse like a longshoreman myself, but it doesn't bother me if my patients curse, especially if they're in pain! I would not have asked this of him. Now if they are swearing *at* me and are in a state of mind to know better, that's a different story.
  7. by   Kitiger
    Quote from SweetieBeeSandy
    "I understand you're in so much pain and I am doing everything I can for you to lower the pain. But it's very difficult to be here and hear you swear. I do not want to hear any more of swearing words". He heard me, and he tried so hard to hold it. "Oh f,fff, it hurts, ohhh fff... so painful!". After an hour medication kicked in and the pain became much better, and he started smiling. And before sending him to a unit, I said I appreciated that he stopped swearing.
    You asked politely, and he responded well. I don't see a problem.

    I use my gray hair to my advantage, as I sort of resemble a LOL.

    Patient: Get me some (blankity-Blank) pain meds now!

    Me: (gasp) (!) Oh! What a naughty word you said! (Said with a smile.)

    Somehow, this usually works for me. The language cleans up ... usually. No, I don't try to MAKE them stop.
  8. by   Pangea Reunited
    Excuse me Sir ....I realize you just got sliced open with a sharp object, but the "bad" words you're saying really offend my ladylike sensibilities.
    It doesn't sound reasonable, to me. It sort of reminds me of those 911 operators who say things like, "Sir, you don't need to speak to me that way!" when someone calls in because their wife is getting stabbed to death and screams, "Hurry up and get here!"
  9. by   OlivetheRN
    I usually will only say something if they're being really loud about it or if it's being directed at me. If there's a kid in the next bay I MAY remind them that they are not the only patient in there and they will usually say sorry and that's the end of it. But I can't MAKE people stop saying anything.
  10. by   Xlorgguss
    Haven't they shown that swearing can increase your pain tolerance? As long as it isn't directed at me, I wouldn't care. I have worked with nurses that actively encourage patients in pain to swear. She said: "Honey let it fly, because if you don't, I'll do it for you". Sometimes just swearing or making a patient laugh is therapeutic
  11. by   Anonymous865
    Psychologists have shown that swearing helps relieve pain.

    Swearing as a response to pain. - PubMed - NCBI

    Another study was published in the Journal of Pain in 2011.

    Swearing as a response to pain-effect of daily swearing frequency. - PubMed - NCBI

    The theory is that swearing helps relieve pain by activating the body's endogenous opioids.

    If it makes the patient feel better and it isn't upsetting another patient, why not let the patient swear all they want.
    Last edit by Anonymous865 on May 14, '16 : Reason: grammar
  12. by   Anna Flaxis
    Meh, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

    "Well, the g-d Fentanyl didn't do s***, let's try some ******* Dilaudid."
  13. by   kalycat
    Quote from Anna Flaxis
    Meh, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

    "Well, the g-d Fentanyl didn't do s***, let's try some ******* Dilaudid."
    This killed me. Lmao!!! [emoji93]
  14. by   NOADLS
    Swearing serves a way of coping through pain.

    If you can't handle a patient swearing in a completely acceptable context, I'd be worried about what you are able to handle. I would even go as far to argue that by asking a patient to stop swearing in this situation, you are showing a lack of empathy.

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