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Patients You *Know*


Specializes in PCU, ICU, PACU. Has 3 years experience.

Another question for ya'll.

I live in a very small, rural community.

I just started clinicals at the hospital and got to thinking about this. I'd bet that at some point I will personally know a patient. Some people I know have made it clear that while they think I'll be a great nurse, they don't want me to be their nurse. And I completely understand. I don't want to see someone butt naked if I'm going to be seeing them outside the hospital at least once a week. If I was the patient I wouldn't want my close friend's husband taking care of me, neccessarily.

How do you handle this? Does it not bother you after you get more used to doing the job?

How do you feel (I want opinions here, folks) about this? If you have taken care of someone you know, how did you handle it? Did it change anything? TMI?

Are there any ethical considerations?



It shouldn't make any difference. Just be very, very careful that you follow all HIPAA guidelines very closely. So even if you see your best friend's husband at the hospital, or husband's boss, unless they say to say something like to say something to your to husband that you saw them, your lips shouild be zipped. What you hear and see at the hospital should remain there,and not at your home and when you are out to lunch.

When you are sick, you really aren't concerned with who is taking care of you, but do they know what they are doing.................

This is the most important tip that I can give you.............


Specializes in PCU, ICU, PACU. Has 3 years experience.

Thanks for that advice, Suzanne.

I was also concerned with being assigned to provide direct care in this situation.

Any suggestions here?

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I was recently a patient in the hospital where I work (not to mention have a lot of friends), and if that doesn't make for some potentially awkward moments, I don't know what would! However, everyone was very professional, and even though they all now know I don't shave my legs in the winter, I don't think anyone really noticed or cared.......all they were concerned about was my welfare, just like any other patient.

I too live and work in a small city, and I've taken care of many people I know personally........you just have to maintain your professionalism and be very careful about privacy issues. A lot of times, people whom you and the patient both know will want information, and you just have to treat them like everyone else and tell 'em you aren't allowed to share anything personal about the patient. It sucks sometimes, but you have a duty to all patients, whether they're a friend or some Joe Blow who just came in off the street, to maintain confidentiality.

When I was a teenager I went to my local planned parenthood for b.c. 2 of the RNs AND the CNM were my Mom's friends!!! eek! On the occasions I saw them, they quickly reminded me that everything was confidential and legally, they could not share my info with anyone. This helped me relax and be honest. They also refrained from talking about mutual friends, upcoming events, or anything non-health related.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Been there, done that. :rolleyes:

If possible, when I run into someone I know well, I arrange for another nurse to be the primary nurse. If not, well, just be as professional as you can. One way to let people know you won't talk about them, is to say up front "I can't even tell anyone I saw you here without your permission, how much do you want to me to be able to say to people? Just that you're here? or not even that?" That lets folks know you take their privacy very seriously.

I work the ED in the only public hospital in town, and was the Pastor's wife as well. Talk about running into people you know! People would say something to my husband, and he'd say he didn't even know they were in the hospital! But your wife works there!, and he'd tell them I kept things just as confidential as he did as their pastor. In time, people came to expect it. So, you'll basically just have to prove yourself slowly, but it does work out.

God Bless and good luck.

Confidentiality is very important in this situation. However, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to request to not have a particular patient (when assignments are being made) just as a patient/friend might request to not have you as their nurse.

I also was in a small community hospital having a TAH. Although I didn't work on that floor, I had many friends who did. Coincidentally(?) none of my close friends were assigned to take care of me which, by the way, was just fine w/ me!! It's just a matter of handling things in a professional manner.

I also work in a hospital in a small town - my hometown of about 10,000 people. And, while I know a lot of people on my own - a great many more people know my parents and recognize the name from my name badge, so this has come up a lot.

I'm also an OB/GYN nurse -- it just doesn't get much more personal than that! LOL I graduated from high school in 1997, so I have taken care of a lot of friends that have had babies and/or GYN surgeries. Like other posters have said, it's all about being professional -- my relationship with these people has not changed negatively - if anything, it's changed positively. Friends that might have shyed away from it before are now comfortable asking me a personal health related question. :nurse:

I once requested not to be assigned a neighbor. If she had needed a balloon pump and i were the only competent nurse for that I would have gladly taken the assignment. Assuring confidentiality is imperative.

My uncle recently died in the small town where I used to live. A couple nurses had gone to school with my cousins kids. One nurse was crying. Her brother had been in scouts with my uncle a leader.

The care was excellent. I truly think those wonderful RNs, LPNs, and aides are as terrific with all patients. Still we felt very supported, the staff felt like extended family.

even though they all now know I don't shave my legs in the winter

:roll :roll :roll :roll :roll :roll :roll

MJ, I can relate mdear!

I agree with everyone else...keep everything confidential. When I was a nursing student I was assigned to a patient and the name of the patient did not click with me until I went in to take care of him and realized he was a teacher where my kids went to school. It was little awkward at first but once I assured him that his stay and dx was a private matter and would not leave the hospital he was very pleased to have someone he knew take care of him. To this day no one knows about his hospital stay except for the people that he has told.

I agree completely with Suzanne about following Hippa Rules. I work at a small community hospital where I've worked for 22 years. I enjoy seeing the pts that I "know" from outside the hospital or that I've gotten to know from taking care of them over the years. Alot of pts tell me they feel better just knowing that I'll be taking care of them. That is a great moral boost for pts to feel that way about me. It gives me great job satisfaction.

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