I was chatting with an old nursing friend yesterday and we were exchanging old nursing stories that we remembered fondly and that made us smile. One of my favorites was when I was a nursing student and an elderly farmer came in for admission.
He was suffering with respiratory symptoms. I got the requisite sample pot and gave it to him asking for a sputum sample. He went off, came back, and handed it to me. To my surprise he had urinated into it. I got another sample pot and said ‘that’s okay not to worry I just need a sputum sample’. Off he went and when he returned to my amazement, he had pooed into it. I was quite impressed with his dexterity yet perplexed at the confusion.
It was at that very moment I realized that the poor man, like lots of people did not understand the word ‘sputum’ and I mimicked coughing into the container. He went off came back with a big embarrassed smile on his face and handed me the sample pot with the sputum sample in it. It was a salutary lesson in that I never forgot what a different world a hospital can be for most people. How people don’t understand medical terminology and that one of the most important things is to be relatable and understood. I never used the word ‘sputum’ ever again.
That’s all for now.
Have a great day.