I recently had a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction at a major Boston hospital. The nurse wanted me up and walking after the surgery (“Promoting Nursing Students’ Ethical Development in the Clinical Setting,” Teaching for Practice, November 2017). As a nurse myself, I knew the drill but I was very uncomfortable. The nurse proceeded to tell me that if I didn't get up, I would be like the others who go home and return in a body bag. She repeated herself multiple times. I lay in bed contemplating my death, knowing that I'd just had extensive chest surgery. Was she right in what she did? I got up.
As a health professional, I think it would have been appropriate for her to acknowledge “good behavior” when I started walking. My faith and trust in this facility went down. It felt like I was involved in an abusive relationship. What is the ethical expectation of making a sick patient walk? Is it OK to threaten death and create fear? Should the nurse have had any positive follow-through?
Marylyn, via ajnoffthecharts.com