What Does a Patient Sitter Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2020
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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.


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Post 5

I think patient sitters mostly work with patients with mental illness, mental disability or patients that are senile. For other patients who need help changing dressings after surgery etc., a regular nurse will take care of those needs.

A patient sitter is needed only in cases where the patient may not be aware of his or her actions. If there is a risk of the patient hurting himself or others, or running away from the hospital, then a patient sitter will be required.

This has to be one of the most difficult jobs out there. Some patients are easier to handle, but some can be very difficult and stubborn, even dangerous. That's why it's important for the patient sitter to have the proper training. She or he must know how to handle these situations. And the patent sitter needs to be very, very patient, tolerant and kind as others have said.

Post 4

@Grivusangel-- Did they not have patient sitters or was there an issue with insurance coverage?

I think most hospitals do have patient sitters and as long as the patient can afford the cost, they will make this service available. Perhaps the doctors didn't realize the extent of her needs. You should have requested a sitter. God forbid, if something like this happens again, make sure to ask for a patient sitter and speak to the doctor clearly that it's not safe for the patient to be alone.

Post 3

My grandmother has a patient sitter right now. She injured herself after a bad fall in the bathroom. She would have been fine without a sitter but she has Alzheimer's and she can act strange and become very upset sometimes.

Either my dad or my mom are actually with her all the time during the day. We don't want her to get lonely and we don't want her to give a lot of trouble to the patient sitter. The most wonderful thing is that it's great to have a professional with us when we want to change my grandmother's clothes or wash her hair, etc. It's difficult for one person to take care of a patient. And my grandma's sitter is very nice and kind.

Post 2

@Grivusangel -- Gosh, that's awful the hospital didn't offer patient sitting. It was great when my dad broke his leg. He was loopy from the surgery too, and the hospital decided he needed a sitter rather than one of us. That way, if he did get up and fall, someone who knows how to do it could help him up right away.

I think every hospital ought to offer this service, and especially for any patients who are a fall risk. All the bed alarms in the world won't deter someone who is determined to get out of that bed!

Post 1

After my mom had her hip replacement surgery, she needed a patient sitter like nobody's business, but the hospital didn't offer that service. She had severe hospital psychosis, was hallucinating, talking out of her head and trying to get up.

They called me at 6 a.m. from the hospital to come and calm her down. She had been calling for her parents (dead for 40 years) and crying that she would never walk again. A patient sitter would have been a godsend. I can't tell you how grateful we would have been to have had someone with her all the time, instead of either sitting there too, or having to go to work and hoping she didn't try to climb over the bed rails!

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