Writing a more believable medical hero/heroine…day 3, bedbaths…

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Image © Shannon Matteson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Upfront…I’m tackling this one because Lillie A asked me to and I’m think we need to tackle it. I’m tackling it from the standpoint of somebody who hasn’t been in a patient care setting where bedbaths were needed in a long, long time.  That was back in my nursing home days…quite some time ago.

Bedbaths, yes, as a rule can be needed.  In general, a CNA will handle it. Not the nurse.

However, should you think that the nurse needs to handle it in your book?

Some things to keep in mind…

It’s problematic to make it sexy.

If the patient is strong enough and feeling good enough to get aroused, then more than likely, that patient is strong enough to sit at the bedside and do his own bath.

Nurses are all about getting them up as soon as possible. The quicker a patient is mobile, the better is is for the patient.  This is a health thing/nursing thing.  We aren’t going to encourage him to lie back and take it easy while we wash him up.

If he has to have somebody do the bedbath? Again, it’s probably not going to be the nurse. It will probably be the CNA. A nurse is rounding on patients, distributing meds, calling doctors, admitting, etc, etc.

But keep in mind, most people who need help with bedbaths :

  • Seriously ill or recovering from a serious illness
  • Unconscious
  • Just recovering from surgery (this means they are probably on pain meds)

There are other situations, yes.  But if any of the above apply? They aren’t going to be feeling teh sexy and I personally think it’s kinda skeevy to be lusting on somebody who is either unconscious, out of their mind from pain, fever, or so heavily medicated they can’t do their bedbath. See the problem here?

Particularly if the patient is recovering from surgery. Many patients recovering from surgery will have drainage tubes and catheters. Let me tell you from experience…you do not feel sexy at this time.  You don’t want sex. I don’t think a bucket full of aphrodisiacs could have induced me to have sex at that point.

Aside from catheters and tubes, there’s also the issue of the pain meds.  If a patient is drugged up, and many are, it’s…problematic, at best, to present a sexual situation.

It’s also questionable ethics on the nurse’s part…while he’s a patient, she needs to keep her sexy feelings under control. Period.

A sidenote… relationships between a patient and a doctor are even more problematic. The patient is in a more vulnerable position and looks to the doctor, trusts the doctor.  It places the patient in a more vulnerable position. There may be even ethical violations, depending on the state.

6 Replies to “Writing a more believable medical hero/heroine…day 3, bedbaths…”

  1. One other reason for a bedbath is that the patient is not steady on their feet or leaning over if they are sitting up. My husband has RA and while he is capable of taking a shower, he scares that nurses with the way he walks. They always offer a bed bath for him when he is in the hospital and he always ask that they leave the towels so his wife can help him when she gets off of work. 🙂

  2. LOL… yes. I can’t list all the various reasons a patient might need a bedbath. Trying to keep the post short and sweet. 😉

  3. Agree 100%. As a critical care nurse, I quite often gave bed baths. BUT, my patient was critically ill. Nothing remotely sexy. Also, ethically, if I knew the patient, requested to not be assigned to that patient. I was taught that it was not good to take care of someone you knew.

  4. I too gave a lot of bed baths and though I tried to be as gentle as possible with the patient, there was always a part of me thinking ahead to the next patient/blood draw/IV/whatever. So although I was focused on the patient, I gave the bath as efficiently as possible so I could move on. Sex never even figured into the equation. Besides, most of my patients were either heavily sedated or on a lot of pain meds and weren’t even sure where they were half the time. That’s just…skeevy. Ugh.

  5. I never did ICU/CCU, but I can see where that definitely changes things As far as the nurse giving the baths, but it makes it even more skeevy for her to make it sexual, yeah?

  6. As I have often said to people, there is nothing sexy about a sick penis!!! I also work in ICU, there are only RN’s so we do the bathing, but even there as soon as they can they are doing whatever they can by themselves.

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