Things Nurses Must Never Say To Patients


Developing a therapeutic relationship with patients is a must in nursing. It is important that rapport is established between the nurse and the patient as they reach towards a common goal- which is health recovery. Without such connection, it would be a difficult to reach that goal as unexpected problems may arise. However, in their aim to build a connection with patients, nurses sometimes tend to forget what and what not to say in front of patients. Professional lines are crossed and sometimes patient trust is affected. Below are five of the things you should never to say to your patients:

Complaining about another healthcare professional

Work relationship problems with co-workers are common in the workplace. It’s normal to have misunderstandings once in a while with your co-workers, sometimes there might even be clashing of ideas and opinions, but no matter what, you should never ever badmouth another co-worker in front of your patient. Doing so can cause them to lose confidence or feel suspicious of any future caregiver.

If you feel like something had been done wrong, which might even result to risks in patient safety, instead of letting negative comments slip, talk directly to the person involved and outside of the patient’s presence. You can also discuss the issue with your nurse manager.

Sharing Personal/ Religious beliefs

Sure we have our own beliefs regarding religious and personal matters, but we should also remember that our patients have their own, too. In some instances nurses express their opinions on healthcare choices regarding a sensitive matter which makes patients feel uncomfortable. As nurses, we care for patients as a whole. This includes honoring what they believe in despite those beliefs and traditions being very different from our own.

We must only empower them to make informed decisions about their healthcare by providing objective information. We should only acts as messengers and help translate medical terminology for the patient objectively.

“Wait for a while, I’m still busy”

Yes, we are busy. Yes, we have a lot of patients. Yes there are tons to do. But that doesn’t mean that we can just brush off our patients or even their folks who are asking for attention. Do not tell your patients, “I’m too busy right now, you will just have to wait” as this can make them feel neglected and unwanted. Instead of dismissing their inquiries or replying with these lines, you can give your patients an estimated time on when they could be seen. You can also apologize and explain to help ease the situation and their frustrations. Also, resources are around you, use them. Ask a co-worker who is not busy to help. Or you may even ask one of the nursing techs to assist you.

“This won’t hurt at all”

Of course you want to put your patients at ease. Of course you want to avoid inflicting any unnecessary pain, but don’t give false hopes to your patients as these can lead to distrust especially in children. Promising no pain can be considered as lying and can become a bad habit of practice. The next time an injection is due, you’ll have a hard time convincing the child. Instead, it is important that you stay true as much as possible. Practice truthfulness when administering care.

For children, you can provide a healthy distraction and do the procedure as fast and safely as you could. You can tell them that though there would be pain, it would not be too much. While for adults, you can orient them properly to the steps as it can help them anticipate and respond to the pain better.

“I’m not sure”

Though it’s your first time doing something such as administering medications, always have an answer ready. Patients and their relatives become highly curious and anxious when they’re in the hospital. Most will insist on knowing why you need to do certain procedures, and hey, that is their right.

Before performing any procedure, the nurse must explain what needs to be done. It’s also a must to inform a patient about a due medication. Before you enter your patient’s room, have all the necessary information in mind. In case you are still not thoroughly oriented with the change in your patient’s plan of care, the best thing to do is to apologize and tell your patient that you’ll be back once you have the right information to discuss with them. Failing to do so may signal incompetence on your part and may even harm not only your professionalism but the patient’s safety as well.


Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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