Nurse Hacks

All of those tips you wish they shared in nursing school…

Powder the bedpan – slips right under them.

Have your patient wiggle their toes and breathe deeply when you are performing uncomfortable procedures. Distraction theory!

When starting an IV – be prepared, ask your patient if they have had an IV before, if they were a difficult stick, and where it has gone in easier the last time. Forewarned is fore-armed.

I won’t reinvent the wheel here, but study your mnemonics before big skills tests, like ACLS or CPR, or make your own! Apgar scores, advanced life support meds, chest pain algorithms – they all have cheats.

If you’ve worked any time at all, you know this one. Know all your facts and have them in front of you before you call the doctor. Labs, vitals, patient’s symptoms, what has worked in the past. Hit them with what you want first, so they are prepared. “She needs more pain meds because she is reporting an 8/10 two hours after last dose, her vitals do this, she is crying. “

Don’t rely on your memory. Look at the labs, print out report, scribble on your glove or a paper towel. You will regret it later when you are charting if you thought you could recall the times of meds given in an emergency, or how high her respiratory rate went, or the time the last med was given.

Sometimes other discomforts can make a patient less tolerant of pain. Make sure they are warm, with an empty bladder, something to occupy them, call light in reach, bed at comfortable height, etc. before asking for more pain meds.

Double and triple glove for messes. Trust me!

If you don’t get the foley the first time, leave the old one in so you know not to go back in that hole!

Lonely patient who just wants to talk and won’t let you leave the room? Give them a task – folding washcloths, writing their I/O’s down, coming up with jokes for “other patients”.

Sometimes a fan in the room can reduce the feeling of “air hunger” in COPD patients. As long as their labs are wnl and their O2 sat is good, try that to reassure them.

Ice the NG tube before inserting it. It makes it slightly more stiff.

On that note, wrap warm blankets around the arm of someone who reports being a “hard stick”, before you even try the first time.

Alcohol swabs have many uses besides antiseptic wipes for IVs! Have your patient take a few deep sniffs of them for nausea, if you suspect faking “seizures” (or dramatic needle phobia), and to literally “mask” unpleasant odors by placing some inside your mask when doing unpleasant tasks or dealing with odiferous patients.

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