Do nurses really have to clean poop? This is a common question that some pre-nursing students (or those interested in becoming a nurse) ask me.
The answer is…YES! Cleaning poop (stool) is definitely a part of a nurse’s job. It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, but it is a very important part of providing patient care.
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It’s basically the same as suctioning sputum, drawing blood, encountering vomit, and more. As a nurse, our job is to take care of our patients, and bodily fluids definitely come with the territory.
How Often Do Nurses Clean Stool (Poop)?
So, how often does a nurse have to clean stool on his or her shift? That really depends on a lot of factors.
First, it can depend on the nurse’s specialty. There are some specialties (or areas of nursing) where stool encounters will be less common. A person who works as a nurse manager, for example, really deals with the business side of nursing. Their encounters with stool will be relatively infrequent (or almost never), depending on where they work.
In contrast, a nurse who is working on the floor of a hospital, who has a load of patients, may have to deal with stool during nearly every shift (or even multiple times per shift).
How often you clean stool can also depend on the health status of your patients during each shift. For example, if you work on a hospital floor and have a patient with an ileostomy, which puts out stool frequently, you’ll have to assist the patient with ostomy bag changes and cleaning the stoma.
Or, if you’re prepping a patient for an in-patient colonoscopy, your patient will be given a solution to help cleanse the colon, so you’ll be dealing with stool in that situation.
In addition, if you’re caring for a patient with a GI infection such as C. diff, the patient will likely have issues with incontinence and diarrhea.
If you work as a labor and delivery nurse, you may encounter stool if a woman has a bowel movement during labor, or while you are assisting with changing the newborn’s diaper.
So, the amount of stool you’ll encounter as a nurse depends a lot on your specialty and the health status of your patients. When you start your clinical rotations in nursing school, you’ll get a good idea of how often you’ll have to encounter stool in the various areas of nursing.
Cleaning Stool is a Team Effort in Nursing
An important thing to remember is that cleaning stool is really a team effort. A lot of people have the idea that cleaning stool is the nursing assistant’s job (or CNA), but it’s not.
Many times, you’ll have a patient who is immobile or incontinent, and you’re going to need help turning the patient to clean them. You may also need help with giving a bed bath or changing linens. It’s definitely a team effort.
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