As an RN, I have noticed a palpable difference in the way psychiatric patients are treated from medical patients. First and foremost, I believe that all patients should be treated alike. The disease process they have shouldn't determine whether we provide them quality care or not. It shouldn't matter whether someone has a broken bone, cancer, is giving birth, or has schizophrenia. We are dealing with human beings, and human beings have a right to quality care.
I was taking care of a patient the other day who is depressed and suicidal, but who also has Multiple Sclerosis. She became a totally different person within a matter of minutes: was totally unresponsive, super high blood pressure, and sky high pulse. I spoke with the other nurse and she said that since the patient is a DNR, we don't need to do anything for her besides giving comfort care. I believe that even though a patient has a DNR order, you still need to find out what is wrong with them. She thought that the patient was having an anxiety attack or something, and that nothing "medical" was going on. Scared me half to death! I continued to monitor the patient while calling the medical doctor. He had thinking along my lines, "Well, we want to know what's going on with her, even though she has a DNR." Duh. Then, in the space of an hour, the lady was totally back to normal. Maybe something was going on with her mind, but who knows? The human body is so incredibly complex, and we understand so very little of it.
Since the MedStud is planning on going into Psychiatry, I discussed this with him and he agreed that we need to treat the whole person, not just their diagnosis.