Nurses – Strategies to Help You Solve the Needy Patient Problem

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If you read, “3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Solving the Needy Patient Problem, then you are ready to take the next step. Now you can learn strategies for turning “needy” patients into “good” patients. If you didn’t, go back and read that article first before continuing.

1. How did you answer the question “What are your expectations of patients?”

Did you conclude that patients who are sick and in pain maybe at their worst behavior? They are not intentionally acting a certain way to give you a hard time. You do not have to take their actions personally.

2. Did you learn more about yourself by asking “What kind of patients do you like and dislike?”

Did you find what patients you are drawn to says more about you than about them? Do you use the same strategies with similar people in your personal life as you do with these patients? You are now ready to use approaches that work depending on the need of your patient.

3. What did you discover about yourself when you asked “How do you see your role as a nurse?”

As nurses, we assess the physical and emotional needs of our patients and do our best to fill those needs. Some needs are easy to describe and meet. If patients are cold, we give them a blanket. If they have a wound, we dress it. Their emotional needs may be more difficult to figure out, especially when they are acted out and not verbalized. All behavior is motivated, but it can be difficult to know what that motivation is. Nurses need to determine the need or motivation behind our patients’ behavior. Then we can define the real problem and move towards a solution.

Let’s go back to Sue from the first “needy” patient article. Sue is an elderly patient who rings her bell constantly. She wants to change position. She asks to go to the bathroom. She does not want you to leave when you have met her immediate needs.

What do suspect is Sue’s motivation for behaving the way she is? Pain? Anxiety? A bladder infection? What else could you do to figure out what is wrong? If she can’t tell you what the problem is, and you can’t figure it out, what interventions could you put into place to help Sue? If you label her as a “needy” patient and just keep answering her bell, then you have not done anything to address her problem.

Patients who are “needy” have problems that we must address. If we do what we do best: assess, diagnosis, plan and evaluate, then we can turn “needy” patients into patients who are better because they have had their needs met. Then we can stop labeling them as “needy.” Remember if patients don’t have needs, then we don’t have a job or a profession.