Have you ever had one of those days when it seems like you are the only person in the entire world that can make everyone happy? You do all you can to take care of the patients in your care and there is always just a little bit more to do. We have all had patients that while physically capable will ask you to rearrange their pillow or move their water pitcher or any trivial task that they could perform on their own. They may be feeling tired and even a little cranky and just want that little extra attention. These things are not too bad one at a time and are easy enough to do. We all want to make our patients happy. Sometimes performing these tasks can lead to an all day affair. Thankfully these days are few and far between.
Occasionally a patient will become excessively needy even as they are becoming more capable of performing the activities of daily living. In some instances this is merely a psychological desire for companionship and fear of eventual discharge. Many of the patients are elderly and live alone such as widows or widowers. They may be beginning to fear the isolation they will feel when they return home. No longer in the hospital setting receiving the attention they have become accustomed to. Many times it is as simple as explaining to the patient that they are capable of performing these tasks and that they should do so. We explain that in order to become fully recovered they need to return to their previous level of activity. This will include performing these simple duties here in the hospital. There are always those that will seem to lose their abilities before your eyes or have mysterious pains that prevent them from performing some of these jobs. The nurse must at these times be persuasive and a little stern and give these patients the push they need to get past this reluctance to leave the nest.
Another category are those who actually feel they are paying for a service and want to be treated as if they are staying in a four star Hotel. Patients that feel they deserve service comparable to a resort make nurses aware of the pressure of being in a service industry. Nursing is a service industry but not in the manner in which these patients feel it should be. We do want to provide good service. Unfortunately all services tend to be relegated to the same thing in the eyes of some patients. "I want what I want and I want it now!" Nurses have many tasks and duties that are continuous and a person that wants constant attention can become a source of anguish. Nurses of course want to attend to the patients needs but we must be able to find a point of satisfaction short of four star pampering. Our services should be in keeping with our level of professionalism and the patient’s own level of ability.
I was in the service industry for many years prior to becoming a nurse and one of the rules I always followed was "The customer is always right". In nursing this is not necessarily our credo. We are educated and informed to a much fuller degree about the illnesses and disease processes and rehabilitative procedures than most of the public at large. This is why we are given the responsibilities of tending to the needs of our patients. In the medical field even though it is considered a service industry we can not follow the credo the customer is always right. The reason that people seek medical treatment is that they do not know what is going on and need the expertise of medical professionals.
In my opinion we can not allow "the customer is always right" credo to rule our actions. Medical treatment has become a partnership that involves cooperation from all parties involved physicians, nurses, patients and all the departments that provide services in a facility. This includes patients learning about the disease or illness that has brought them to the hospital. We are educators that are here to inform patients of all aspects of the process and their specific needs as indicated by their ailment. Patients today are expected to learn and weigh options and make informed decisions. Patients are given choices and have rights and should become fully involved in their own treatment and care. This includes performing to the best of their ability.