Through the Eyes of a Patient
Nicole Lehr | Scrubs Magazine
In a child’s eyes…
Infant: Bright lights (crying). I’m cold (crying)! Cold hands (crying). I don’t smell my mom (crying). Hungry (crying).
The needs for an infant are defined by Maslow’s basic physiological needs of breathing, food and homeostasis. Nurses can tend to these needs by providing cluster care and a low stimulation environment, especially for neonates, and by swaddling the patient up after interaction. Warm your hands up prior to touching an infant, shield their eyes when you turn on the lights, swaddle them up tightly with their hands near their faces when you are finished assessing them. Lastly, hand them to mom for there is nothing better for an infant than the mother’s touch.
Toddlers: Ahhh, who is that? I don’t know her. Where’s my mom? I remember getting an ouchy last time they came near me. What is that thing around her neck? Don’t touch me!
Toddlers are fearful, parent-oriented, and oftentimes weary of strangers entering their rooms. Also, if somebody with a white lab coat came in and gave them a shot, then everybody with a white lab coat is surely out to get them. Approach a toddler slowly, talking to them and letting them observe you before you get close. Once you are by their crib, play with them for a couple of minute prior to assessing them- grab a favorite stuffed animal, let them play with your badge or your stethoscope.
Prior to listening to them or taking their temperature, listen to yourself first so they can see that what you are about to do is not painful. Of course, there will be instances when shots and IV sticks are unavoidable, but utilize rooms outside the patient room, such as a treatment room, to keep their own room a safe place. This age is all about play, so interact with them, they will learn to trust you. Also, what they can’t see won’t hurt them so if the patient loses his mind when you take his blood pressure and stand over the bed, place the cuff on him and leave it, then push the button as you are walking out the door so he can’t see you. You are probably a lot scarier than the cuff squeezing his leg.
Are You At Risk for Burnout?
School age: I want to play outside. I miss all of my friends. This food is gross. I’m bored. Why do I have to get another shot? I don’t feel good.
These are some of my favorite years because the children are way more intuitive than most people give them credit for. You can reason with school age children, so keep them informed of the plan for the day. They are typically still very obedient because they want to make their nurse happy. They do well on a reward system and thrive off of positive reinforcement.
Distraction is an effective technique when performing procedures. They can be imaginative so expect questions such as “if you poke me with that needle won’t all of my insides ooze out of the hole?” Take them out to the nurse’s station with you and introduce them to all of your coworkers as your bravest patient. Let them perform heart surgery on their stuffed animal. Most importantly, be honest with them about what is to come.