Posted by: medicblog999 | March 19, 2009

The little touches


I saw something the other day that really made me stop in my tracks and just think, wow!!

I’ll give you a hint and tell you it happened when I was taking a patient into an A&E department that I don’t normally get to, and it concerned a male nurse who I will call Steve.

Now, there are probably many, many scenarios that you can imagine I may see when walking into an A&E that would cause me to write a blog post right?

This one however, was so small and apparently insignificant, but it really stands out as a memorable moment for me, and one that may change the way I go about part of my day to day duties.

I had been looking after an elderly gentleman ( let’s call him Tom ) who had been suffering from a relatively minor ailment. The details in this case are unimportant apart from the fact that Tom really didn’t want to come into hospital, was hoping that he would not be kept in and would get back home as soon as possible. I pushed him into A&E and was met by Steve. I started my handover :

“Hiya, this is Tom and he..”

Steve cut me off and said

“Two seconds mate”

He turned to face Tom and bent over shook his hand, not just in a standard way but the good old two handed fashion. He said

“Hello Tom, its a real pleasure to meet you today, I`ll just get the handover from the paramedic so I can hear what has been happening to bring you in to us”

Steve turned back to me, apologised for interrupting me and asked me to continue, which I did. I finished the handover and then Steve turned back to Tom

“Sounds like you`ve been having a bit of a rough time lately! Lets see what I can do about getting you sorted and back home eh?”

and off they went down the corridor.

I was left standing in the corridor wondering what I had just witnessed. It sounds so trivial as I am typing it, but the way Steve approached Tom, the respect and kindness he showed from the very first minute and the connection that he made with him was instant. You could see the trust that Tom was putting in Steve straight away, and you could see the often forgotten nurse – patient relationship take a flying start.

You may well think I am being a bit over the top here, and maybe it says something about the way we look after and treat our patients in the NHS as a whole. So many times you hear handovers still focusing on the patients condition, disease or illness, without mention of a name or a social history. 

That was the first time I had anything to do with Steve, but it certainly made an impression on me and I am determined to get back to that A&E at some point to tell him what I thought of his “nursing” skills. He doesn’t appear to have forgotten where nursing starts, with the nurse-patient relationship, a relationship that also needs to be formed between a paramedic and the patient. we dont have the luxury of having the time that an A&E nurse has with a patient, so it is more important than ever for us to try and get it right from the get-go.

I think I will try that and see if it makes a difference for me. I am always polite and courteous, but I don’t think I have ever introduced myself with a handshake to a patient (but I have to be real here too, and we all know there are some patients who you just wouldn’t want to be shaking hands with!!)


  1. I’m currently working through my nursing school prerequisites. Stories like this one make me look forward to my future profession even more, because Steve is exactly the kind of nurse I want/plan to be. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Hi Kathleen,
      All the best for your studies. It’s always a good starting point to want to be nurse because of ‘role models’ you have seen or experiences you have been involved in. Look forward to reading your blog once you get stuck in to your nursing (????)

  2. You mean to tell me you’re not ignored when you arrive at the A&E, often having to block the exit to the nursing station with the gurney to get noticed and give a report?

    Great story! One I hope we all can learn from. Our “patients” are people.

  3. I don’t shake hands, in general, but either immediately before or after handover people get a ‘Hi, I’m Kate, I’ll be looking after you today’ and then explain what will happen in the department – usually ending with an apology for how long they’ll have to wait 😉

    • Hi Kate,
      Likewise, I always introduce myself and say what is going to happen etc, but just the simple gesture of a handshake seemed to make so much difference. I’m on night shift tonight, think i`ll try it and see how it goes.

  4. Nice one Steve!

    I’m only a First Responder, but I always try to tell my patients my name and status, and that an ambulance will be along shortly.

    The crews I work with usually take my introduction “Hi, this is John, who has chest pains” as a reason to make eye contact with John and to say Hi.

    Obviously, if the patient presents as a lump on the floor you get to grips with the situation the best you can, but with conscious patients…is there another way?

  5. What a nice story. I can remember a patient you HAD to shake hands with … remember ?

  6. This is a comment that was emailed to me rather than posted on the page as a comment.
    I have contacted the sender, Joan, and she is happy for me to display it here:

    Hi Medicblogg

    just started reading your blog, it is excellent, keep it up,
    Re your latest post, I was on the recieving end of kindness as portrayed in your blog, 2 half years ago at the age of 46, I was having an angiogram done I was nervous and felt very much alone, In the Cath Lab was a nurse called cherry, she was wonderful, reassuring and kind, she held my hand when my artery went into spasm (that hurts!), and afterwards chatted to me to distract me,
    6 weeks later, i went in for the angioplasty, and in the Cath Lab, Cherry was there, It was such a relief to see someone i knew, again her reassurance and support was invaluable, i had a tough time during the stenting and after when i had a haematoma, all the time she kept me updated as to what happens next, later in the day she came back on the ward to see me.
    When i left the hospital i wrote a thankyou card to the staff with special reference to Cherry,
    It hit home when i read your post, kind words or gestures mean the world to someone who is scared of whats happenin, I emailed coz i never know when to write a comment
    All the best to you, ps hubby and I hold North east as a special place to us, it is a stunning county! and last year our son Mark spent a season in Berwick (hes a lifeguard) at the place we used to go when he was a boy! The people of newcastle are lovely, (ok the accent bit difficult at times)
    Best wishes
    joan from the midlands

  7. […] […]

  8. Funny I should stumble across this today (thank you Emergiblog)–this is the day I went back to Stanford University Hospital to look for some of the doctors and nurses who’d taken care of me during my 18 days in there in January and February: I wanted to tell them thank you.
    I’d been close to dying for weeks and look at me now! Because of their efforts and their skills.

    And most of all because they truly cared about me, helping to give me the will to hang on. Someone many of them had never seen before. Someone they didn’t expect to see again. But I was a fellow traveler, and to them, that was enough.

    I owed them a thank you.

  9. I’m going to play a game of “reply to old posts!”

    I was doing first aid at an event, mostly full of young ‘adults’ drinking too much.

    A rather unsavory older gentleman was doing the rounds of “invite yourself into groups and try to chat” – while standing by himself he started prodding at something in his mouth, ended up with a bit of blood on his fingers and wandered over to us to see what was up. Asked him to open his mouth and had a look – little bit of blood on the gumline around a molar, not bleeding heavily so I told him it would probably stop and if it didn’t to come back and see us. He thanked me for it, and then went to shake my hand.

    Now, I didn’t put gloves on for a quick look inside a mouth, so when he offered me his hand to shake I was a bit stuck. His bloody hand.

    I figured it would be offensive to put gloves on simply to shake someones hand…and then decided that I wasn’t going to shake it at all.

    Nothing like thinking on the spot on how you explain to someone that no, you won’t be polite, whilst not being rude…good fun!

Leave a Reply to medicblog999 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: