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How do I deal with friends calling for a diagnosis?

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“I am the only medical professional in both my and my husband’s family so I do field a number of calls and requests. Most are for very basic advice and generally anyone who asks is very respectful of my time. They’re careful not to call me chronically!

“I’m careful to point out that since I’m unable to examine the patient myself, the advice must be taken with a grain of salt.

“The funniest requests are always things like rashes three states away – as you can imagine it is a bit difficult to diagnose a rash without being able to see it. I once even had a friend e-mail me a picture of a scalp wound to see if I thought it needed stitches!”

Do people you love ask for diagnoses? Do you have different advice for us?

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LeAnn Stofferahn

LeAnn Stofferahn, NP-C, MSN, is a nurse at University of Nebraska Lincoln Health Center.
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6 Responses to How do I deal with friends calling for a diagnosis?

  1. Dana

    When my friends and family found out I was in nursing SCHOOL they started calling!

  2. They not only ask for a diagnosis and treatment advice, they constantly ask me to supply them with medicines and to help collect their chronics, and to help them skip queues at the outpatients dept. It’s hard to have to turn them down…most of the time I just give in…in return, they go around telling everyone what a helpful and friendly nurse I am, and then more ppl turn to me for advice…such is the life of a nurse.

  3. Abby Student

    I told someone I was studying for the NLN and I became their go-to for medical advice. Now that I’m in my first semester, I’m really happy to be able to answer, “I can give you a nursing diagnosis but I don’t think that’s what you want.”

  4. Sia

    I finally got the point across by asking my aunt (who lived 2 states away) what color shirt I had on. “I can’t see your shirt on the phone”.. Exactly! I can’t see the rash either. All I can give you is basic information and strongly suggest you have your doctor inspect that rash that isn’t going away with the usual otc remedies!

  5. Jean McDougall

    I usually say “I’m off duty now” or “that’s not my speciality” or “I only deal with things from the neck up” lol

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