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Talkin' Shop...Volume 4...Dissecting Reader's Digest.

Ready for our next installation of Talkin' Shop...Dissecting the Reader's Digest?

Last month, when I received this month's issue (why is that? Why do you always receive this month's issue last month? Wait. What? Never mind...I just confused myself.) of the Reader's Digest, it boldly displayed this:

Bah. And to think I wasn't invited to play. ;)

So, I decided to do what anyone would do...cut it apart. Look at it from another angle. Get down to the guts of it...dissect it. Which, basically, means I'm just saying what I think about it!

This week's quote from the Reader's Digest "50 Secrets Nurses Won't Tell You" (Michelle, Crouch. "50 Secrets Your Nurse Won't Tell You." Reader's Digest. November 2011: 132-42. Print) is this:

"When a patient is terminally ill, sometimes the doctor won't order enough pain medication. If the patient is suffering, we'll sometimes give more than what the doctor said and ask him later to change the order. People will probably howl now that I've said it out loud, but you have to take care of your patient." -A longtime nurse in Texas

First things first...I don't work with the terminally ill. I work on the other side of the life spectrum, so I'm probably not "qualified" to speak about this one, but I will anyway.

As nurses, we are our patient's advocates. And, while we are talking about advocates, if you feel your nurse is NOT advocating for you, speak up...okay, sorry for digression. As our patient's advocates, we need to speak up on their behalf and work for what is right for that patient.

As nurses, we are "acting" under doctor's orders. THEY have the medical degree, THEY practice medicine. Giving a patient more medicine than what is ordered (even if the patient requires it) is acting outside of our scope of practice. So, while it's probably the right thing morally (i.e. decreasing the suffering of a human) it is, well, basically illegal.

Like, "lose your license", illegal.

But again, I don't work with the terminally ill, maybe there's some kind of different "code of ethics" involved there, I dunno.

The most serious pain I deal with is that of an 8ish pound watermelon trying to squeeze through a tube sock. It hurts (like a son of a gun) but it's not "unnecessary" suffering. Labor and delivery is truly a "no pain, no gain" kind of a gig. Pain is necessary for the amazing end result.

And, totally worth it, in my opinion!

'Til next week...


  1. I agree with you totally. What would happen if the patient died? The doctor would be investigated, not the nurse! I trust my doctor to know what is best for me.

  2. I'd love to know if Reader's Digest has gotten any backlash due to this's surprising to me that they would print this article when some of the answers are just not right...and actually illegal...

  3. Ok...I don't know much, but I did used to work in a Hospice ( I did sales and marketing, but as the team leader, I went to management meetings). The nurses CANNOT give pain meds without the Dr's order or verbal consent. Regardless if it's a continuous acute care or actively dying, the Dr's order trumps all. Yes, licenses have been lost over their taking that privilege to themselves. there's a heirarchy for a reason.


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