May 4th, 2011

crossed heart

Phone Etiquette

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

Sometimes being a nurse is full of small hard decisions.

For instance -- do I help everyone to use their in room phone? Bear with me --

I know the hospital isn't prison. But some people clearly aren't going to make good phone calls. (There are people who can't manage to make any phone calls. In the past, I've been guilty of giving a phone to a person before just so it'll occupy their time. A strong desire to call and a complete inability to motor coordinate to dial the phone or have a knowledge of the 9 to get out rule can occupy a lot of a determined alcoholic's night.)

But other people can call. Where are they calling? Well, that elderly demented guy is calling where he used to live. In 1972. Repeatedly.

Or his wife. Who is as old as he is. Who really doesn't want to be answering the phone at 3 AM, what with her bad hip and lack of cellular technology.

Is it my job to tell him he can't make that call? It is his in room phone. It is his wife. It's not a prison. But it's not helping anything at all, except for the brief Groundhog Day-esque moment where he realizes his wife is on the other end of the phone. Again.

We do try to council people, distract them, drug them if we can (if it's reasonable, lalala). But if taking the phone away (or unplugging it) only makes him more agitated what point is it serving? Hard to say.