Friday, December 2, 2016

Geriatrics and Poop

Right now, I'm still transitioning to working at a hospital instead of working in a skilled nursing facility. I'm on a Med-Surg floor, and I really like the opportunity to learn new things and use a different set of skills that I didn't need to use while in Skilled Nursing. It's busy, but a completely different busy than what I'm used to. There is one comment I've heard though, while working on my floor that makes me laugh.

Most people here assume that working with Med-Surg means that you work with poop. Everyone else has a specific purpose, whether it's the women's center, or ICU or even the cardiac floor. Med-Surg is where the patients go that don't fit in a neat little compartment. Which means we get a lot of the elderly, and a lot of those who can't take care of themselves.

However, when it comes to poop, I've got to say that Skilled Nursing definitely has a distinctive edge. When all of your patients are incontinent, and when all of your patients need assistance to the toilet, or can't get out of bed, all you do is clean up poop. It's something that I've just become accustomed to. In every facility I worked in, we had a set schedule, and when someone hasn't had a BM for a specific number of days, we give them something so they do. My first job, we had a poop board, and all of the CNAs had to update it at the end of their shift. I still remember my co-worker yelling at the CNAs to fill out the 'poops'. I worked in a facility where we started giving stool softeners after one day without a BM. By day 3, we were giving enemas.

In the hospital, the patient isn't in the building long enough to really worry about it. If they report that they haven't had a BM for several days, we can help them, but I've noticed it isn't as big of a priority as it is in a nursing home. And yes, there are incontinent patients, but the ratios are much lower.

As nurses, I think we should just come to expect to work with poop. It's a part of life, and we're the crazy ones who obsess over it.