Monday, June 5, 2017

My dear friend

Does anyone else refer to patients as "friends"?

I'm not saying that you are actually friends.  I'm not suggesting anyone takes their ICU patient out for a beer.  But I feel like I hear things like this:

Nurse: "Our friend in room 305 is asking for more morphine again."

In writing this post, I'm realizing that we tend to use the word "friend" to refer more to difficult patients.

With that in mind, it worries me a little that the teachers at my kids' daycare refer to all the kids as "friends."


  1. Nope I don't. But just reading that statement I could hear the sarcasm and I could immediately relate it to a very demanding patient.
    The teachers calling kids 'friends'... doesn't sit right for some reason.
    Mind The Medic

  2. It is common practice in daycare/teaching setting for teachers to refer to the kids collectively as "my friends". Some of our favorite teachers have used that term usually to get the kdis attention. As in "my friends it is time to clean up and get ready for lunch". Not used the same was as it would be for difficult patients.

  3. As long as your daycare providers don't refer to your kids as yard chimps, leaky ankle biters, or biological replacements it'll be okay.

  4. I do on occasion, but I don't use it to refer to difficult patients.
    I use it as a term of endearment.

    I mainly work with infants if that makes a difference.

    I once had a parent overhear me call my patients this and she commented that she thought it was really sweet that I called them "friends," so now I do it more often.

    I don't hesitate to use it in front of parents and my tone of voice is always positive when I say it.

    Agree that there is a different connotation with adults, though I'm not sure why.

  5. No, I'd never refer to patients as 'friends'. But I tend to take the professional distinction very rigidly. Except for pediatric patient, I tend to refer to them as Mr. X or Ms. Y, or as 'the patient.'

  6. I'm a pediatrician and will often refer to new admissions as "new friends" when I'm passing on sign-out to the residents. For me it sets a tone of optimism/wishful thinking that they won't be difficult patients.

  7. Our hospital uses a smiley face on the EMR to indicate patients who are angry/agitated. It was very confusing when I first started, until it was explained to me ("why is this happy patient spewing flames with their head turning around backwards, speaking in tongues? Did I do something wrong?").