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Presenting Hospital work I.D. as a Patient or Visitor. Any thoughts?

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Specializes in Critical Care. Has 14 years experience.

I am not sure if this topic already exist, but I just would like to read other people's response regarding hospital employees presenting their hospital/work I.D. when they become a patient in any healthcare setting, visiting a family/friend, or as the healthcare proxy of the patient. When I become a patient myself, I disclose my profession, only discuss when ask to. My two opinions about this is that (1) you don't get proper service if staff knows you're a healthcare provider because they get intimidated, (2) it is often great for them to know, so that they are aware you understand their "language". VERY vocal family members or friends of a patient can often be harmful for the sick individual and they don't receive proper care (in my opinion and my observation). Health care staffs, especially nurses become highly aware, fear of something will happen, so they avoid pretty much engaging or even going into the patient's room. I have witnessed this a couple of times in small and large, well renowned medical centers. I think it is OK to reveal to healthcare providers that you are also a healthcare worker, if the interaction is not aggressive or very demanding. Many people often forget about this and I feel sad for the "individual" in the bed. I treat all my patients like my own family members. That is the only and best way I can provide upmost care for them. Before entering a patient's room, I often receive warning signs from staffs about the patient. It is wonderful, but sometimes, patient's anger is NOT about the nurses, doctors, or other healthcare workers. We forget they are sick and they are in unfamiliar environments. I had a patient 10 years ago, with pancreatic stage IV cancer. He was nasty to everyone, but I took care of him to the end. We all know that this type of cancer is very aggressive and sometimes, doctors give patient and their family a hope to hold on. They told the guy, he will have 6-months to live, but his prognosis was so rapid, that within 2nd week, he was at the end of his life. He became so nice, apologetic about his behavior and thank me how nice I was to him. He had no family at the bedside, so I held his hands, prayed for him, when he took his last breath. This is the main reason why I love nursing.

I don’t mention it until I get outed and I always get outed. 😂 Usually it’s by my language or by a family member. When it happens I play it down as much as possible.

erwindt, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 14 years experience.

Hi Wuzzie. Same for me as well. One time, I went for a procedure. The anesthesiologist was having a hard time with my veins. I told him, "Doc, go to my right A/C". His eyes became big and ask me, "are you a nurse?" I just told him yes, and that was it. Did not want to entertain it. Plus, he was going to "knock me out", so I got to be nice.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

If you are a patient, or a family member of a patient... and disclose you are a nurse..you are shooting yourself in the foot. All caregivers are intimidated.. and you are screwed.

Been there, did that.


Specializes in LTC.

Been there - NOT always true!

OP - your #2 'language' comment is soooo spot on.

During my hospitalization 5/4 to 5/11, my providers listened to me, really REALLY listened to me when I had real concerns. It was like me, the nurse, talking with my providers as I would if my concerns were from the nurse perspective. They listened and addressed my specific issues.

I doubt they would have been quite so tuned in if it had NOT been for C19, but I thank TPTB for my hospital intensivist.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Well, for many years my hospital was the only one in town, and is self insured, so there was no anonymity for me or my husband. Many of my nurses were also former students of mine (I taught them health assessment), talk about intimidation, LOL.

One time in triage when I went in for CP, the nurse and the tech were arguing (quietly but I still heard them), "no, YOU start her IV", "no, YOU do it". My poor tech's hands were shaking so much, that I started teasing her until she got annoyed and told me to shut up; & whacked it in first stick, LOL. Then a former student got to be my nurse in the back.

I don't pay much attention to people trying to impress me, with a badge or with status; they all (well mostly), have to get naked.

I was in the hospital and my doctor outed me as a nurse. My nurse comes in to meet me and says oh so your the nurse, I reply "no I am a the patient and talk to me as if I was just another patient". I was real sick and just wanted treatment.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

Nope. My experience isn't relevant to the areas I receive care. I don't want them assuming I know things when I don't. Does it come up in conversation occasionally? Yes, because a lot of the time my insurance card tells them where I work. But they bring up the subject, not me, and I'm clear about knowing what I don't know.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

21 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

I don’t mention it until I get outed and I always get outed. 😂 Usually it’s by my language or by a family member. When it happens I play it down as much as possible.

My medical language is a dead giveaway, plus, my hubby always tells

On a routine visit with my healthy wife- no.

When advocating for my elderly aunt-

CT ordered with contrast on a 95 year old: "So, renal function looks good?" It did not, was overlooked, order changed to non-contrast.

"What's your policy on foleys?- my aunt is mobile up to chair." The foley had been in a couple days longer than their policy, came out a couple hours after my conversation, UTI happened anyway. Had I been there 2 days earlier, there would not have been a UTI.

Walked in, found NGT on high continuous suction. First thing I noticed just from the sound when I walked in. When the medical team rounded, I told them. They checked and said said that it was correctly set on low intermittent. I told them that I had reset it, was not sure whether it should be low intermittent or low continuous, but that they should be sure to communicate that to nursing.

This was in an urban hospital, Bronx. Nurses are overworked and understaffed and were missing things. While they may have felt I was stepping on their toes, I do believe they stepped up things when they knew that an educated advocate was involved.

I was polite and appreciative in all my interactions, but kidney failure, utis, and whatever happens when suction is too high are all things that are worth intervening for.

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

On 5/24/2020 at 7:31 AM, Kyrshamarks said:

I was in the hospital and my doctor outed me as a nurse. My nurse comes in to meet me and says oh so you're the nurse, I reply "no I am a patient and talk to me as if I was just another patient". I was real sick and just wanted treatment.

This. Yeah, I forget to keep my language "non-medical", so they figure it out. But there is so much that I do not know! I want them to offer me the same teaching they would give to a regular patient. If it's information that I already know, we can discuss it more in-depth.

As a private duty home care nurse, I work with clients who have trachs & vents. That's a fairly narrow focus.


Specializes in Long term care. Has 2 years experience.

I will out myself as a nurse. I can't help myself. I am also a really good patient. I try to be polite and grateful for the services provided to me. I always thank my nurses and doctors and LNAs... that is until I go under anesthesia. But knowing this, I warn all healthcare providers that I become a nightmare when I am going under and coming out and to prepare yourself. I think healthcare worker to healthcare worker, those type of conversations are important. But luckily, all procedures I have had the warrant anesthesia were quick. I have never had cancer or anything that has threatened my life. I imagine it must be so scary, as a healthcare worker who has seen how cancer can destroy the body and the mind, to know it's coming. Or to see your parent or child go through something like cancer.

I have no answers here. I guess I am just babbling my thoughts.


Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU. Has 15 years experience.

I don't like to be outed, but either my annoying family member that I'm there with will out me OR my medical knowledge when speaking with staff will out me. I make sure to clarify that I'm a pediatric nurse and don't work on that specific unit so they know more than I do in that regard, and usually that eases their intimidation.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

Last time I ended up in the ED it was via an ambulance ride from work and I still had my name badge on me which has giant "MD/NP" placard under it ... so no, no hiding it. I got some very strange looks from other patients in the triage area, until I realized I was still wearing it and shoved it in my pocket.

Not sure it made a difference though: Ambulance crew thought I was a tech/CNA, but did fetch me a warm blanket before leaving me in triage and were super nice. Though that may have been because I told them they were my favorite ambulance service, and kept telling them how awesome they were while I spent the ride deliriously rambling.🤷‍♀️

Emergency MD thought I was a total hypochondriac and barely assessed me. RN was awesome though! Totally unfazed and still the best IV stick I've ever had - she had 1/2 a liter of saline in me before I even realized she'd placed the IV.

ED visit prior to that was while I was a nursing student - and I was so out of it that I just shoved my purse at the triage person and told them to dig for my ID while I grabbed a barf bag and dry-heaved everywhere - they found my student ID prior to my driver's license. I was also a student in their hospital system so my chart was flagged and treating team would have realized I had a healthcare role anyhow. Other than the RN providing a much more detailed explanation of the mechanism of action on one of the meds I received than I think she would normally give - all the staff seemed pretty normal with me - but they see a LOT of healthcare students and professionals as well as various celebrities and notable figures at that hospital and I don't think most of the staff are at all phased.


Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 35 years experience.

I think it all depends on the staff dealing with you.

When I'm the patient I say I'm a nurse and I appreciate that people speak to me on their level. I've never had bad or defensive treatment from a doctor, nurse or other health care worker and it's generally been positive that they know I'm a nurse.

As a relative my experiences have been mixed. When my parents were alive whenever either of them was hospitalised they immediately proudly announced "oh my son's a nurse" so no anonymity for me. It often meant I could get things done, especially when my mum was in long term care in her final years.

Once when my mother was on an acute medical floor and frequently when she was in psychiatric care I got outright hostility and defensiveness from the staff. I worked it out that these were bad nurses in general anyhow, whereas the good nurses have always treated me with respect. Just this Tuesday I was in day care for a small procedure and everyone knew I was a nurse - all fine.

erwindt, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 14 years experience.

Hi DavidFR,

Yes, definitely agree with you... "all depends". I brought this topic up because at my hospital, the mother of the fiancé of our hospital CEO was admitted to one of the medical floors. The CEO's fiancé is a Medical Doctor at another facility, and she displayed her work ID proudly at my facility. OK, I get it, you're a doctor. I think it is good in a way, because I was able to speak to her directly in medical terms, without the run arounds, explaining the many "whys". And, she was also calm her mother and explained the procedures being done to her. The daughter was very nice to me, but I have heard a lot of complaints from other staffs (e.g., doctors, nurses, etc...). Apparently, the daughter was commanding the other doctors and was asking a lot of questions. I meant, yes, I would, too, ask a lot of questions if the patient is family or a close relative, but commanding employees how things should be done makes them uncomfortable or fear of going inside the patient's room. As healthcare providers, we shouldn't fear or get intimidated of other healthcare providers, especially when they themselves become patients. I always wonder why. Is it because we don't want to make a mistake/error. I feel like, being a patient with VIP status can have both negs and pos. I still remember when I went for my shoulder surgery. I wrote a letter to my family, place it in a envelope, and instructed them to open it if I don't come out of anesthesia. The letter was all my bank account information and other personal properties. As healthcare workers, we SEE so many things, that's why we, more like me, have fears.

LovingPeds, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Clinical Pediatrics; Maternal-Child Educator. Has 11 years experience.

As a patient, I usually don't tell that I'm a nurse. I don't know everything and appreciate the simple explanations as much as the next person. If it's something I'm very familiar with, I can ask questions to further my understanding if I need it.

As the relative of a patient, I admit I can be a bit of a nightmare, but only when basic standards of care aren't followed. When my family member was seen in the ED, I was recognized as a nurse. I watched the nurse take out a pair of gloves to start an IV and place them on the bed while she was gathering supplies. Didn't think anything of it and was discussing hemochromatosis with my family as we had an on-going debate about how much blood was removed per visit (the spouse of another relative has it). I was actually distracted trying to distract my family member from an IV stick when I started to notice things that bothered me. I looked over to see how the IV stick and blood work collection was going and noticed the gloves still on the bed.... she had started the IV and was collecting the blood without gloves. I wasn't happy, but wasn't going to make her uncomfortable at that point - it was already started and being taped. Another staff member joined into our conversation at that point and said that she agreed with my family member that a lot of blood was taken because (patient's name) had (this experience). The same nurse later on had multiple patient stickers on her scrub jacket and scanned the patient sticker rather than the patient armband for a medication. At that point, I was paying more attention and requested that she scan the armband. She appeared put out by my request and actually said they always use the labels before I insisted on the armband. I could see that not all the labels were my family member's.... I didn't know how to handle the whole situation at the time between not embarrassing the staff, dealing with my own concerns about my family member, and concern for patient care. After much thought about what to do, I ended up writing the whole experience (without the use of names) to the ED manager stating the experience from the point of a ED visitor with a medical background. I was told that they had training on all of the above, but that it would be reiterated.

When I take care of health care providers, I treat them the same as everyone else. I do feel a little nervous at times, but it doesn't stop me from doing what I do as I would for every other patient. My own experience made me realize that probably a lot of times health care workers who are visitors are trying to find that balance too.


Specializes in LTC.

Eventually we nurses usually get 'outed' whether intentionally or not. Usually it's our language that gives us away, or else some family blurbs it out. Regardless, I can't remember it ever being a problem.

Just this last Sept 2019 I was in-pt at the world's BEST-EST hospital. Staff knew I was retired RN; no problem. It was an elective admission and I was fully aware and cognizant. But this 5/4, I was a SERIOUS emergency admission this time and I have little memory of those early hours.

Nursing and medical staff MUST have known my background because I believe they went above & beyond in my care. I was so compromised mentally. Even at the 2nd hospital on 5/8, I am so grateful to the staff that recognized my background. They HEARD me as amoLucia, the NURSE, not just amoLucia, the pt. My concerns were addressed on both levels, and that meant ever so much.

It's funny though because one can't seem to turn off the 'nurse' no matter how hard we try to hide it. 😍