Vasovagal response


I've recently come to the realization that I have an embarrassing problem. Sometimes, when I have to witness a procedure with cutting or excessive blood I almost faint. I don't consider myself a squeamish person, but I have been a nurse for almost two years and this has happened several times - once, as a nursing student observing an amputation, once when a physician was performing a thoracotomy, once during a sheath pull, and once when observing a pacemaker insertion. I can feel it coming on when it starts to happen and I've been able to stop myself from passing out, however, this leaves me worried about the ability to safely fulfill my duties. Will this ever get better? Is there anything I can do to keep it from happening? Thanks for your insight.

It will get better with time. I have heard that wearing something with a distinct tactile feel may help such as a particular necklace that you can press on to focus your mind. I personally use pain to such as pinching and standing on my tip toes to help focus my mind away.

Whatever you do, don't feel bad. This is a normal human response.

allnurses Guide


1 Article; 4,787 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics Retired.

I experienced this a few times in nursing school...I found if I made sure I was standing with a slight bend in my knees it would help a lot.

Horseshoe, BSN, RN

5,879 Posts

Make sure you are not holding your breath when you are watching these uncomfortable procedures. Focus on keeping your breathing regular and not shallow.

SaltySarcasticSally, LPN, RN

2 Articles; 440 Posts

I have Crohn's and have a vasovagal response when I get a severe attack due to the pain and due to going to the bathroom every 5 minutes if you catch my drift. Anyways, not the same situation, but I was getting really sick of it because it happened in a public bathroom once and I was super embarrassed. What I do is keep mints with me. Small ones, obviously you do not want to have a big mint in your mouth if you do pass out. But for some reason if I know it's coming on, and I concentrate on the mint, and sit down, I can mostly avoid fainting.

Has 1 years experience.

Thank you all for the tips and encouragement. I will give them all a try!

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

Also- be upfront about this going in. I have a coworker who passed out after a patient pulled their own art line- patient's mom called and told me she was flat out on the floor. Patient's mom also was nice enough to hold pressure on it so her kid wouldn't bleed out. :)

Everybody has their 'something'.