The nurse is caring for a client who is having surgery the next morning. The client says, “I’m really scared about surgery. I’ve never been put to sleep before and I’m afraid I might not wake up.” Which response by the nurse is the most therapeutic?

  • “Why are you worried about such a minor procedure?”
  • “We can call the doctor and cancel the surgery if you would prefer.”
  • “It’s normal to be afraid of something new like surgery. Tell me how you feel.”
  • “Don’t worry, you have a really good doctor and he will see to it that nothing goes wrong.”
Number 3 is correct.
Telling the client that it is normal to be afraid and asking how he feels is the most therapeutic option. Asking the client why he is worried about such a minor procedure puts the client on the defensive and trivializes the procedure. What the nurse may see as a minor procedure may feel like major surgery to the client. Offering to call the doctor and cancel the surgery may not be an option, depending on the procedure the client is having. It also does not allow for exploration of the client’s feelings and may increase the client’s fear if the nurse is quick to offer canceling the procedure. Telling the client not to worry and that the doctor will be sure that nothing goes wrong offers false reassurance and dismisses the client’s feelings.