“If you need anything just use the Buzzer..”

In most clinical settings you will usually be, at any point, within reach of a “buzzer”. These are for the patient to call a Nurse for assistance in any matter. This is where the confusion lies. Some patient’s use it when they desperately need “assistance” others use it for literally “any matter”.

I have answered call bells for hundreds of different reasons where patients have decided they need urgent or immediate assistance for things such as:buzzer

  • A sudden impulse to use a commode
  • Dropping their pocket mirror
  • Intense pain or nausea
  • Needing a wound dressing or stoma bag changed
  • Wanting their TV to be moved to a better position

Some are more justifiable than others it’s fair to say. It’s difficult when the ward is busy or understaffed and you have a list of jobs to do and you sprint to the other end of the ward to answer a buzzer for a patient who would like colder water than is in their jug. There are many reasons why this is difficult to deal with. You cannot scold the patient for unnecessarily calling you, even if it is for an outrageous reason. You cannot tell if the patient who usually buzzes to have her pillows rearranged is having an actual emergency. When there are 3 buzzers sounding at once, you have to make a decision of who’s to answer first.

It is the old story of the boy who cried wolf but it is logical that you would see to the patient who rarely calls for help before the one that calls you every half-hour for trivial reasons. The key is to make sure you answer each and every buzzer expecting it to be urgent. And if/when it’s not, taking a few deep breaths is extremely advisable.

Want to read more? See this post for a follow-up commentary.

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