As a nurse starts an IV on me, l will conduct a quick and instinctual “trust assessment” based on the healthcare professional’s verbal and non-verbal cues. The first indicator for me is presentation: I want to see them look at me and introduce themselves in a confident and nurturing way. The second is consideration: they should ask me as the patient for my input on the best place for the IV. The third is compassion: if the first attempt doesn’t work, how the nurse handles the next couple of minutes is crucial for me to continue to trust.
If the IV is a success, I breathe a sigh of relief. But if it doesn’t take, the nurse should hold the site with pressure and make eye contact with me while calmly expressing our joint frustration. Holding the site provides comfort from the needle stick. A short comment of regret conveys that they recognize me as an individual.
All of these positive indicators persuade me that I can trust the nurse and can allow a second attempt.
In addition to those positive indicators, I rely on little cues
• Facial expressions – are they displaying a friendly demeanor?
• Methodical approach – do I see this in their actions of washing hands and preparing for procedures?
• Attention to detail – such as swabbing the end of the IV bag with alcohol with precision and showing pride in their work.
• A question that lets me know they see me as an individual – this can be as simple as, “What is one of your favorite memories?” or “How did you get here today?” or any other easy-to-answer question that shows interest in me.
How can we help healthcare professionals if they don’t act in the ways we need to feel comfortable? This is what I do:
• I ask them their name and how long they have been starting IV’s.
• I provide a brief history and explain where I think the IV should go.
• I ask what type of needle they use. My goal is to get them talking; their answers determine if I think they care.
It is important to convey to our healthcare team how important earning our trust is, and what we need to feel secure.
Trusting our healthcare team is essential. Studies have shown that if you trust your healthcare professional you’re more likely to take your meds, show up for care, and listen to their advice.
Trust, according to the dictionary, means: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.
Trust is earned over time. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time on many occasions.
If you aren’t checking off many of the positives above, assert yourself! You can start with my questions about experience and tools. The resulting conversation isn’t always easy, but our life may depend on it!
Lori Hartwell is the Founder & President of Renal Support Network (RSN) and the host of KidneyTalk®, a radio podcast show. Lori was diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of two. In 1993 she founded RSN to instill “health, happiness and hope” into the lives of those affected by chronic kidney disease. Lori is also the author of the inspirational book Chronically Happy: Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness and is a four-time kidney transplant recipient.
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