What to do when Patients are NOT being honest with you??

NEW ADMISSION: During the assessment – Have you ever had a patient refuse to tell you everything that was in their bag/purse? Or have they just flat-out lied, saying that they do not have any other medications or none at all?

If you ever come across a situation like this where a patient refuses to be honest with you with what they have in their bag/purse, below are some steps to handling this type of situation.

1. Always ask the patient first if they are taking anything and if so what.

2. Ask them what exactly are they taking & how often.

3. If what they tell you do not add up with their symptoms or etc., tell them that “Your symptoms do not add up with the medications that you are taking and is their anything else that you could possibly be on or have with you? Or is there something else that you could have mistakenly taken?”

4. Charting everything that the patient has brought with them to the hospital is a part of the assessment including EVERYTHING in their bag/purse. Not just charting that they have a bag. Ask the patient to empty their bag/purse.

5. If the patient says, NO! Then you have a right to ask security to come and empty the patient’s bag/purse ONLY if you honestly feel that they are NOT being honest with you.


7. Let security come up and empty their bag/purse and go through each item.

8. Once they find something CHART IT and chart that security search their belongings after you simply asked the patient to empty their bag/purse, but they refuse to.

9. SEND ALL of the medication down to Pharmacy!!!

10. Know that you did not invade the patient privacy, but simply prevented them from over medicating their self.

Your job as a Nurse is to attend to the patients medical needs, which means you need to know everything that they are taking in order for the Doctor to know what to continue and or to STOP! You are the Doctors eyes & ears and rather they show that they appreciate you are not, you are very important to them. So if going that extra mile helps prevents more complications for the patient then go with that gut feeling if you feel the patient is NOT being honest with you! They will thank you later and if not, just know that you have done your job right!

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