Childhood Cancer

As soon as you can, learn about the shift changes on your child’s floor. These generally occur every eight or twelve hours. Shift change is a necessary, and sometimes hectic, time when the outgoing staff members meet with the incoming staff to report on the status of all the patients on the floor. They discuss:

• A brief history of each patient

• A summary of major events from the last two shifts, such as, “She vomited after each dose of morphine, so today we switched to Tylenol® with codeine and she’s feeling much better.”

• What needs to be done, for example, “The lab work is not done yet and Dr. Jones is waiting for the results.”

• Family information, such as, “John’s father had to go to work. His phone number is posted by the bed. John’s aunt is staying with him now.”

After hearing a report on all the patients, the nurses decide how to assign patients to incoming nurses to keep the work load even. Next, each nurse spends a few minutes organizing and prioritizing what he needs to do for each of his patients.

You should try to avoid calling during the shift change hour (a half hour before and a half hour after) with non-urgent questions, comments, or requests. If you press the call button, the unit secretary will tell you it may be a while before a nurse comes because, “They are in report.” Of course, the nurses will respond to things that cannot wait, such as your child vomiting, an empty IV bag, severe pain, or another emergency.

Whenever Katy is hospitalized, I introduce myself and my daughter and ask when the shift change is. Then I say, “I’ll do my best not to bother you.” I always get a grateful smile. If I need something and I see them in report, I wave and go back into the room. I get more smiles. Then, whenever I really need help, they are almost always just fabulous. I’ve found that when we all work as a team, it goes much smoother.