Professional/Personal relationship with patients

  1. I work in a hospital and see patients (usually) just a few times when they are inpatient and I have no follow up with these folks after discharge. Occasionally there are those people who you just seem to form a bond or connection with almost instantly.

    Over the past week or so I've had one of those situations. Met the patient and his significant other and, for whatever reason, just hit it off from the start. He's going to be DCd this week and I won't be involved in his ongoing care. She (significant other) gave me her phone number and asked me to get in touch with them - if that's appropriate with my job. She did not ask for my personal number, which I found very considerate...just another reason I like these folks.

    So the question is, am I crossing some professional or ethical line by striking up a friendship with these people?
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    About mammac5

    Joined: Nov '09; Posts: 735; Likes: 486


  3. by   zenman
  4. by   Altra
    IMO, yes. I would sincerely wish them well, and suggest that they can send a card to the unit to update us on the patient's progress if they wish, and leave it at that.
  5. by   mss6721
    I think that once the provider/patient relationship is over, there is no reason you can't be friends with them after discharge. Since you said you won't be involved in his care after discharge, this should not be a problem.
  6. by   myelin
    I think it depends on the context. I know in psych any kind of personal relationship with a patient is a big no-no, even after the provider/patient relationship is well over.
  7. by   mcnacht
    Unless you are a very small town where everyone knows everyone else, no matter what their job, I would not pursue any kind of personal connection with the patient. It might be difficult, but it's such an iffy area that if you don't have years of experience under your belt, you could cause your career a lot more harm than good.
  8. by   ICU.RN
    I can understand why you would be conflicted. I don't see a problem with becoming friends with these people if you will no longer be caring for the pt. however, I wouldn't accept the pt in the future if he was to be re-admitted, and you had become friends with them.
  9. by   NJprisonrn
    I agree, as long as they are not going to be under your care in the future then it seems fine.
  10. by   Imarisk2
    Before you make the choice, think carefully: if things get sticky, you can't step backward. If you are asked for "expert advice", how will you handle it? If they friend you on facebook and start commenting on your previous professional relationship, how will you respond? If they neeeeed a caring friend, and you start getting dragged by your nose through the dark corners of their lives, where will you start setting limits? If they suddenly start finding fault with the care they received at your hospital, and/or file a malpractice suit, where will you draw the line? I'm a psych nurse, and I've known a few patient/professional relationships outside the hospital to turn very very sick and nearly ruin careers. Are they worth it?
  11. by   mammac5
    UPDATE: I'm not proud to admit this, but the main reason I have decided not to keep in touch with these very lovely people after hospital discharge is because one of the extended family members is a malpractice attorney. Sad, but true.
  12. by   BlueDevil,DNP
    It's a very bad idea. Boundaries between personal and professional relationships need to be crystal clear.
  13. by   RNCCMMS
    I agree with Imarisk2. It's hard to care for patients who become friends. There is always the chance that the relationship offer is not what it seems. Hate to be so cynical, but years of life teach me to be careful. And she gave you an out "if it was appropriate with your job". FYI-It's hard sometimes to care for friends who become patients, too.
  14. by   psu_213
    I am in the "don't get involved" camp.

    I realize that every one (the pt/the significant other/you) involved intends the relationship to be totally independent from work. But, what happens if something happens? What if something happens to the patient during the rest of their stay? What if something happen during a future stay to either the pt or their SO? The fact that one was your patient could put you in a very uncomfortable position.