It looks like Nurse Adams misplaced her unit keys again. Psychiatric nurses flip out when they can’t find their keys. It’s not a good thing. A patient could find them and escape off of the unit. Then come the incident reports. Do I need to say more?

I learned my first lesson about unit keys when I cared for an old retired army nurse. She was a patient at a VA hospital. My patient had worked as a psychiatric nurse in a military hospital during World War II, and I was there when she was admitted onto our unit. I don’t remember her diagnosis, but I think that she may have had Alzheimer’s disease. Her first day on the unit didn’t go so well. She looked panicked, and she kept patting her pockets. She scurried around the unit and fought back tears as she tugged at the unit doors. She said that she was making sure that they were locked. I was a novice psychiatric nurse back then, and I didn’t know what was going. A veteran psychiatric nurses clued me in. My patient thought that she was working on the unit and she couldn’t find her keys.

The next day one of our orderlies brought in a key ring filled with old keys. He walked up to the patient and asked, her, “Are you looking for your keys?” She grabbed them and held them near her heart. She was at peace.

Note to self: Sometimes it’s the simple things that patients need most.