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Patients wants a back rub

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by Oceanpacific Oceanpacific (Member)

Oceanpacific has 33 years experience and specializes in Infection Prevention, Public Health.

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Farawyn has 25 years experience and specializes in A little bit of everything..

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I am impressed with those of you that have found meaningful ways to make your patients feel comfort. My ick-factor was with a patient demanding a "back rub" the same way you would tell someone to go pick up your dry cleaning. She wasn't in pain; she was entitled and rude and it "rubbed me the wrong way."

I think massage is wonderful. However, when it is incorporated into "standard hs care" then it is nothing more than a ritual. When used in the thoughtful, considered and individualized way that some of you have presented it is truly caring.

I do wonder though how many of our male colleagues would give back rubs to male patients or female patients? I ask the gender question because I think "back rub" has gender aspects. I am bring really genuine here--"male nurses" (sorry), if the trucker in room 212 rings the bell for a back rub, would you have any hesitation in providing it?

Great. Another gender question.

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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As per previous posters, nurses are taught.. and understand the importance and benefits of human touch.

It works wonders.

In the current hospital environment, nurses barely have time to glance at the back, let alone massage it.

The last time my patient asked for a back rub.. I burst out laughing.

Patient care is now .. based on a BUSINESS model. No time for the human touch.

Until Press-Ganey starts asking people how they liked their back rub.

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

13 Followers; 3,682 Posts; 38,007 Profile Views

Fresh postop hysterectomy patients typically have low back pain on arrival to the floor. I believe it's related to the flat-on-the-back positioning during the procedure. Pain meds don't touch it. My MO was to reposition them on their sides with the top leg flexed, knee on a regular pillow and a flat pillow under the abdomen. Then I'd rub their backs with "lotion and no gloves". It was the only way they could get any relief.

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207 Posts; 5,416 Profile Views

At the risk of seeming snarky, you've been a nurse for 33 years and you don't know about back rubs? There's nothing lewd or lascivious about them.

Actually anytime someone says "you've been a nurse for XXX years and you don't know (enter a topic), it is a put-down. I did say that the back rub was icky (to me) but definitely not "lewd or lascivious."

Overall, I learned a lot from the responses on this topic. I haven't done hospital nursing in a very long time. I can see circumstances in which massage techniques would be very comforting.

However, I really stiffen up if someone touches me and I would not like it if a colleague were holding my hand. I had a coworker who liked to hold hands and stroke my arms. Major stress; I had to nip that in the bud. If a patient needed to hold my hand, that's fine.

I understand that for some people touch is very uncomfortable. And when that's the case, then I would never expect that person to get or give a massage.

And I totally agree with 'been there done that' re the time crunch and the current health care model of time is money.

Finally, if no one else is going to pick up this piece of low hanging fruit...

"Different strokes for different folks ".

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Farawyn has 25 years experience and specializes in A little bit of everything..

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I understand that for some people touch is very uncomfortable. And when that's the case, then I would never expect that person to get or give a massage.

And I totally agree with 'been there done that' re the time crunch and the current health care model of time is money.

Finally, if no one else is going to pick up this piece of low hanging fruit...

"Different strokes for different folks ".

:up: Yea, it was right there.

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ERGirl83 has 2 years experience and specializes in Emergency Nursing.

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Not going to lie, never being asked for a back rub is one of the great perks of being an ED Nurse. You are all wonderful nurses, and I'm glad you do these small acts of kindness for your patients. I just know I'm in the right place for me, because it's just not my thing.

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207 Posts; 5,416 Profile Views

I am impressed with those of you that have found meaningful ways to make your patients feel comfort. My ick-factor was with a patient demanding a "back rub" the same way you would tell someone to go pick up your dry cleaning. She wasn't in pain; she was entitled and rude and it "rubbed me the wrong way."

I think massage is wonderful. However, when it is incorporated into "standard hs care" then it is nothing more than a ritual. When used in the thoughtful, considered and individualized way that some of you have presented it is truly caring.

I do wonder though how many of our male colleagues would give back rubs to male patients or female patients? I ask the gender question because I think "back rub" has gender connotations. I am being really genuine here--"male nurses" (sorry), if the trucker in room 212 rings the bell for a back rub, would you have any hesitation in providing it? [irregardless of anyone's sexual orientation, and the trucker could be a woman]

Male nurse here; no issues with me giving one to a guy or gal. My main concern would be that they are not uncomfortable with me.

I'm also pretty good with most animals as well.

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Farawyn has 25 years experience and specializes in A little bit of everything..

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Male nurse here; no issues with me giving one to a guy or gal. My main concern would be that they are not uncomfortable with me.

I'm also pretty good with most animals as well.

But how are you with the trucker in room 212?

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cardiacfreak is a ADN and specializes in Hospice.

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I had a pt who we were trying desperately to start an IV on, we had stuck her like 10 times. Finally, she said enough is enough and refused anymore sticks. I really couldn't blame her, anyway, she asked me if I would please rub her back. She had chronic back pain d/t degenerative changes.

My first reaction was uhhh no way no how. Then I thought about how many times we had stuck her unsuccessfully, so I relented and rubbed her back for a few minutes. She was very appreciative and thanked me profusely.

Thirty minutes after I rubbed her back she coded and died. NSTEMI! I was so glad I had rubbed her back.

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Glycerine82 has 4 years experience as a ASN, LPN and specializes in SNF/Rehab/Geri.

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I think touch is so important. I had a patient when I worked LTC who had the worst leg cramps. If I had extra time I would rub her feet and legs with lotion and she was always so grateful and slept much better.

I've also been known to kiss a few foreheads, can't help it.

I actually really miss it, I think that's where I'll end up.

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Here.I.Stand has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

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I've never had a pt who expected a nightly back rub (watch, it'll happen tomorrow!! haha). I imagine the attitude behind the request would influence how I felt about it.

But in general I like being able to do them, providing I have the time and that the pt understands I am not a trained massage therapist. Back rubs shouldn't be an expectation of our SOs either, but I'll give my husband one, or I'll massage children's legs for growth cramps. It helps a pt perfuse his skin, reducing his risk of pressure ulcers. Human touch can enhance a pt's feelings of well-being and aid in relaxation, which in turn aids in their physical well-being--including as an non-pharmacological adjunct to pain meds.

The other night I floated to the MICU and cared for a 90-something woman with urosepsis. She was in the ICU because she was on a couple of pressors, but was not intubated. She had baseline dementia, so the MDs were reluctant to write for anything stronger than Tylenol (not EBP, but was their decision. Grr.) This poor woman had arthritis and was not strong enough to reposition herself; all she did was call out for help and tell us she was hurting. At one point she specifically complained about pain in her shoulders; i gave her her Tylenol, repositioned her, and then decided to massage her shoulders. I sensed a decreased body tension within seconds, and she started to say "That's good dear. That's good dear." That made ME feel good as a nurse! :)

Edited by Here.I.Stand

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Here.I.Stand has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

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We even had to place the bottle of lotion in warm water.

The experienced CNAs at my first job taught me how to do this. One said that someone had once told her she didn't need to do that--the lotion was already room temp. Her response: "But the resident's body is not room temp." Brilliant. :up:

Whenever we gave a bed bath, we put the lotion bottle into the wash basin to warm up as we worked. I still do this.

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