Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nursing Care As It Should Be

While I often devote many of my posts to problems with the medical care I encounter, I do think it is just as important to share my good experiences with medical professionals.  I have been fortunate over the last number of months to have had stellar nursing care when I have been at the hospital for infusion treatments.  These nurses make the ordeal of my monthly treatments at least bearable; and without their care and support I’m not sure that I could tolerate what I repeatedly go through.

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First and foremost, these nurses are obviously good at the medical part of their job.  In my case, they are constantly adjusting my infusions and dealing with the challenge of a having a highly allergic patient.  This usually means extra attention and care, which means extra time.  In addition, the nurses’ jobs are clearly stressful on a daily basis.  Every time I receive treatment, I see some sort of emergency situation arise during the day with one patient or another.  Yet, they are always handling these situations, seemingly with ease.  They take care of the problem and don’t ever seem to lose track of what’s going on with the other patients.   I know this is no accident and that they are highly trained to do just this, but it is still something I find remarkable.

But what led me to write this is post is not just the obvious things they do, but the assortment of little thinks they do that make having to spend time at the hospital a little less of a drag for me.  In short, these nurses provide humanizing care that helps me and I am sure other patients get through difficult health problems.

So many examples come to mind.  I am thinking of one nurse in particular who hugs me upon my arrival.  We share stories about our families and recent events in our lives.  When she finally met my husband, she was excited to put a name to his face and now asks about him every time I’m there.  I am not made to feel like just another patient or a nuisance, which has been the case in many other hospital situations I have had.  It seems to bother her more than me when she puts in my IV. She goes as far to apologize when she puts the needle in and especially if she has to do it a second time.  I know she really does care and such compassionate treatment is rare and truly makes a difference in how a patient feels.

I often observe how she and her co-workers talk to other patients as well. It is really they who explain the side effects of medications and treatment in an understandable way from what I can see.  On many occasions, I have heard other patients thanking these nurses for telling them something that they had no idea about or didn’t quite understand after their visit with their physician.  It is this rapport and relationship building that makes patients comfortable enough to ask a question and share information about a medical problem they are having, and as a result, better medical care occurs.

At the same time, I believe the welcoming atmosphere that the nurses create fosters an overall sense of camaraderie among patients at the infusion center.  I have my regular cross word puzzle buddy who is a grandmother, 40 years my senior.  There is my friend who accompanies his mother for infusions who started to bring me free movie tickets when he learned that I was a fan.  Patients share cookies they have baked.  You get the picture.

I do wonder if others have had similar experiences.  I am also curious if anyone has tried to track the effectiveness of various infusions centers, with patients receiving the same treatments.  I have to believe that the quality of the nursing care in the way they administer treatments, solve problems, and answer questions can really make a difference.  I am certainly grateful for the nurses who treat me and try to let them know it every chance I get.


  1. This is an insightful post. I worked as an RN for 16 years (including doing infusions) before I went out on disability. I have also been in 3x for steroid infusions last winter and of course, have had many other interactions as a patient with nurses.

    Nurses can make all the difference in your experience as a patient. I had 2 different nurses when I went for my steroid infusions. It was like night and day. It probably isn't easy being my nurse at times because I am not only VERY educated about my illness, but just as educated about my treatment and how things should work because I am a nurse. But I am also very tolerant when it comes to missing IV's, things running late, etc. because I know how it can be. That being said, there was a difference in the care I got between the two nurses both in the humane/emotional aspect and the technical aspect and I especially found the technical aspect disconcerting because it was issues that I had to call to their attention (i.e.running the infusion longer than they were going to because I didn't tolerate it at the faster rate the first time).

    Fact is, nurses are all human as are doctors and that is why we as patients have to be on our game all the time and remember to thank them at the times when they do make us comfortable.

    1. As always, you hit the nail on the head. It often does matter which nurse you get at the infusion center and there can a significant difference in skills in addition to the caring part of the work. Since I am a regular at the infusion center, there are three to four more senior nurses who take care of me because some of the complications I have had. They are willing to keep the infusion rate very slow and take extra precaution, but it has been a process of learning and working together over a number of months. But you are right we patients always have to have our game on -- I am always alert and checking my pre-meds and the infusion to make sure things are being done according to plan. I have learned that participating my care is a must and letting my guard down is never an option.

  2. What a wonderful post, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about the doctors and nurses who made a difference for me. You've inspired me to write a post about it! It's on my list now. It's easy to forget to post about the positives too. :)

    1. So glad you enjoyed and you'll be writing a post on some of those special healthcare providers. It can be hard to remember the positives when you have chronic illness, but it always inspires me!

  3. My good friend just spoke to me about finding a new infusion center (she has MS), because the TV is gone, the nurses just ignored her "it's no fun anymore" and I support her move. It has been a good choice and what were they thinking?- cost cuts I guess but cuts the patients...sign of the times I suppose.