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A patient sitter is a member of hospital personnel that will essentially monitor the behavior and habits of a particular patient in that hospital or medical center. He or she will work under the direct supervision of nursing staff, and provide status updates and reports regarding the patient. A sitter is usually recommended if the patient is a flight risk, or a danger to himself or others in the hospital. Other situations may call for a sitter as well, especially if the patient needs a significant amount of attention and care for a particular medical condition.
While a patient sitter may not be a certified or registered nurse, he or she will generally have some combination of education and training that qualifies him or her for the position. Most sitters will have at least an associate's degree, if not a bachelor's degree, in some health or medical field; even with this education, the patient sitter will undergo some job training to ensure he or she is prepared for the daily duties as well as for any emergency situations that may arise throughout the course of a shift.
Some of the duties a patient sitter may be required to perform include patient transport throughout the hospital, helping administer medications, attending to the various needs of the patient, bathing or otherwise grooming a patient, and even dressing the patient. The sitter may change the linens on the hospital bed or help feed the patient at meal times, and if the patient becomes upset or begins acting in a manner that may pose a risk to himself or others, the patient sitter is responsible for notifying the appropriate medical professionals. It is likely that the sitter will be trained in basic safety techniques; in some cases, the sitter may be trained in basic restraints.
Being a patient sitter requires a significant amount of patience and understanding. Some patients may become confused, irritable, or otherwise unhappy, which means they can say and do things that can be considered aggressive. The sitter will need to have self-control and avoid arguing with the patient, engaging in any behaviors that may further agitate the patient, and engaging in any unprofessional behavior that can escalate a situation. Sitters cannot leave the room while on shift until they are relieved from duty, even if family members come to visit the patient. If a doctor is in the room, the sitter may be able to step out of the room, but only briefly.