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How to maintain each patient’s dignity


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We often forget there is a human being on the other side of the bedside. While we stand there and spout off the appropriate education and implement the required interventions, we sometimes forget there is an actual human being listening.

Some nurses have an overwhelming knowledge base and the sharpest skills, but fail to treat their fellow humans like people. No matter what kind of nurse you are or aspire to be, please be sure to maintain each patient’s dignity. Here are five tips to help you:

Be careful how you touch them

  • Whether pressed for time or nervous because it’s a first time skill, pay attention to how you touch them. Be gentle and be mindful. Gentle pressure goes a long way–not to mention having warm hands.

Be conscious of their feelings

  • Just because you’re not afraid doesn’t mean they aren’t. Just because you’ve done this a thousand times doesn’t mean they have. Treat every interaction like it was your (and their) first time.

Don’t make them feel embarrassed

  • No matter how you feel, no matter what you may want to say, no matter how you may want to act, do not make yourself feel more comfortable at their expense.
  • Your body language will speak louder than any words will. No matter how comical they may act, do not smirk or smile. Embarrassment will get you nowhere.

Always cover them up

  • While equipment malfunction is important to troubleshoot, please remember that the patient’s birthday suit is hidden under their gown for a reason. If at all possible, find a towel, find a blanket, find something to keep that birthday suit hidden.

Give them privacy–always

  • There is a very good reason every bed is surrounded by a curtain. It’s your job to make sure that curtain is used. For some strange reason, health care professionals of all walks of life tend to forget that curtain exists.

While some of my suggestions may seem ordinary or even basic, I promise you that no patient will care how much you know. He or she will, however, care how much you care.

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