A friend of mine once attended a medical conference where a nurse spoke on the six Ps to effective administration of medication, and how paying attention or ignoring them greatly improved or lessened the desired impact of the drugs. Here is a quick summary of what was discussed.

Nurses should check for each of the following:

  • Colors and shapes of a patient’s Pee and Poo, because medication may not work if they are dehydrated, and it will merely pass though the digestive tract if they have diarrhea.
  • Pain level negatively affects the effectiveness of medication.
  • Puss. Its presence is a sign that there could be another – yet undiagnosed – infection.
  • Pills. Communication between different doctors and departments of the same hospital is not always what it should be. Is the patient already taking other pills, and are they contraindicated?
  • Position of a patient receiving medication is important. Are they standing, bedridden or in a wheelchair?
Presence of laughter could have been mentioned but wasn’t. Caring for the body is important but what about something even more important, the mind? Laughter is a simple intervention that, when used sensitively and respecting the gravity of the situation, can help with:
  • Positivity.Laughter helps create a positive mental attitude and unlocks an entire range of positive emotions.The mental state of a patient is very important because it impacts his or her biology. Laughter is nature’s counter to stress. They are physiological opposites (the predominance of one tends to prevent the other) as laughter dilates blood vessels and fosters muscular relaxation. Medication will always work better when the body is relaxed than when it is uptight.
  • Perception. Laughter changes our perception of the world around us for the better. How you view a situation determines if you will respond to it as threatening or challenging. Laughter dispels fear and fosters acceptance, which in turn relaxes the body making it better prepared for medication.
  • Pain control. Laughter is regarded as the most easily accessible analgesic for pain and depression. It is not possible to laugh about something you believe cannot be changed, and resistance may well be the most painful thing about pain and discomfort. Laughter creates perspective.
  • People. Everybody wants to be valued and validated. Professor Patrick Murphy Welage says: “When you look into someone’s eyes and laugh with him or her, you recognize one another’s humanity. This is non-threatening and non-judgmental. It transcends your culture, race, gender or sex and reminds you that we are all in this life together.”
Situations when laughter is not appropriate include when a patient (or anybody else in the immediate vicinity) is having an acute physical or emotional crisis, experiences intense pain, is coping with bad news or is very sick. There is a time to laugh, and a time not to laugh.

How to educate patients in hospitals

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