abused nurse...HELP!!!

  1. hi, i am so frustrated i dont know where to turn, then i found this great forum for nurses. i need advice. i am in a critical care unit just turned trauma. stress is high as it is. problem is, a nurse in my unit hates life, hates me, and hates weekenders which i am one of. no matter what i do or say, she verbally attacks me to my face and behind my back.

    for example: LAST STRAW

    last shift, i had 2 pts. our ratio is a nurse for every 2 patients.
    i sent pt one to the OR for surgery approx. 3 pm. 2nd pt. i extubated and he died, a no code. she came on at 3 pm which is the last 4 hours of my shift. i work 7a-7p. she put the charge nurse up to asking me to take another fresh post op pt coming through the door. i said i already have 2 patients to the charge nurse. she immediately yelled across the nursing station "You dont have ANY patients!" I blankly looked at her and said "im sorry but i have 2 patients." I have post mortum care to do, (with all the calls and paperwork) and my other patient is going to be back anytime from the OR and I will be recovering him.
    Comment from her, "You don't have any patients now, and you are not going to sit on your ass with your nose in the schedule book while we take another pt." (i was copying my new schedule into my planner so i know when i am working, which took 2 minutes, which i hadn't had time to do the last 4 days i worked.)
    this certain person memorizes everyone elses schedule and can tell you who worked what holliday 10 yrs ago.
    I said I was not going to take three patients when other nurses had one. Her next comment was "GO ahead, dont take it. i am going to write you up for refusing to take the assignment." i immediately went to the nurse managers office, and told her if she thought it is my place to take this patient, i will, but i am tired of getting verbally attacked by this nurse and being **** on.
    she went to the unit and assigned the new pt to the charge nurse who had 1 pt at the time. as it turned out, i finished the death care at 7 pm and my other pt returned from the OR at the same time. in the meantime, she is going behind my back to other nurses working saying snide comments under her breath ie. "I'm going to punch her" "i am going to lay one on her" this is what i put up with every time i work with her, but when i go to a charge nurse or manager, it always comes back to being my fault.
    example, after all this went on last night, everyone else went to supper or break. i asked if everyone else had gone, so i could take a break. i had only taken one 10 minute break at 10 am and lunch 20 minutes at 130 pm. it was now 5:00. as soon as i asked, privately to the charge nurse, she (with her big ears) yelled from a patient room, go ahead, they can PAY ME for MY lunch break! I did not go to break and quietly resumed my work.
    5 minutes later, i am called to the nurse managers office. she told me to sit down, and she looks at me and asks "How many breaks have you had since 3 pm?" I blankly looked at her and said "None"??? She said that other nurse had just been in her office complaining that she did not go to supper and i want to take another break, and just had one after 3 pm. I said I had not had a break since lunch at 130. well that is not what I was told she said. i said i only had 30 minutes off the floor in the 10 hours i had already worked, and at 3 pm my patient just died and i was dealing with a distressed family and the pastoral care dept. she said i dont know who is telling the truth. RRRAAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!
    now she wants the 3 charge nurses to meet with me and this other nurse in private. i dont want to. she is going to lie and yell more at me, and i am not up to it. no matter what i do or say, she will get away with it. many other nurses have been verbally abused by her and have reported it, and nothing is done.

    i am ready to find another job. i love my job, and the patient care that i am doing. i am a christian, and i do not get involved in the gossip and back biting sessions, which she leads on a regular basis. then the ones that they are cutting up so bad walk in and she is buddy buddy with them. it makes me sick in my heart.

    monday i am thinking about calling the er manager about a position there, but i feel like i am giving her what she wants.
    i just dont think i can mentally handle this anymore. this was just one example of what goes on constantly with her. i do not egg it on, most the time, i am talking to someone else quietly, when she hears and chimes in. her house burned recently and i donated 20 dollars to her, and even called her to see if she needed anything ie. uniforms. i have gone out of my way to be nice and show a christian attitude. HELP should I change jobs or stay there. would you meet with her. what should i do. i am so unhappy and frustrated.
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   VictoriaG
    Get the Heck out of there! There are way too many units where you are needed to stay in a job where you have to watch your back constantly. It doesn't sound as if the charge nurses and managers are giving you the support you need, just go! You will not be sorry.
    VictoriaG
  4. by   VickyRN
    What you are encountering is a HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT that is causing you SEVERE MENTAL, EMOTIONAL (and if not changed soon--PHYSICAL) DISTRESS. You cannot keep working like this. The cost is just too great. Your health is at stake. If your health goes, then so goes your ability to work. If the nurse manager cannot control the actions of the abuser, then there are PLENTY of other jobs out there and you can SPEAK WITH YOUR FEET!!! My advice to you is get out before it is too late. Some battles are just not worth the fight.
  5. by   michele redd
    It sounds like you have a bad work situaion. If this is a unit that you cannot work on or you feel like you are being back stabbed, quit and find another unit. You will be doing yourself no great favors by staying on a unit where you feel so uncomfortable. It will not help work or benefit your patients in any way.

    You might want to try and talk with this coworker and see if the situation can be resolved. If not, would a moderator help. Can you present your situation objectively? Could any of the paper work from the post mortum have been handled by the nursing supervisor or by a unit clerk. Could the post mortum care have been done by a nursing assistant?

    Did the nurses on the unit have two patients who needed physical care at the time who were on the unit. How long did you expect your patient to be in surgery. If it was for the rest of the shift, then perhaps you could have taken another patient.

    Best advice, if you feel overwhelmed, immediately tell the charge nurse on the unit and the supervisor and ask for help. If it does not come, continue up the food chain.
  6. by   hopefulnurse
    additional info:
    on the shift in question, there was no secretary, the supervisor doesnt come to help with any kind of patient care, and we dont have nursing assistants. the other nurses were standing around talking so i dont think they were doing pt care at the time. this was just another situation that i was set up for, because NO ONE has ever been asked to take a 3rd pt, i had no idea how soon my pt returning from OR would come, and i feel very sure that the relief charge nurse would have ever asked me to except that he asked this persons advise and she put him up to it.
    in response to one post, i help anyone who needs it. it is a busy trauma icu with many visitors and demands, phone ringing etc. most of the time there is no secretary anymore. no one else has a problem with me, so please don't make it sound that way. 4 hours was spent consoling family members over this sudden death event and whom did not leave the bedside until almost 630 pm. i spend extra time with family in this situation as much as possible. anyone who works in a critical care unit, especially trauma will understand how much work 1 patient can be on a good day. if i may also add, i have gotten several letters from family to administration regarding my care and consideration for them, as well as other co-workers who have gone to management without me knowing it until evaluation time with acknowledgements about how much i have helped them or have been exceptionally nice with a family or patient.
    Last edit by hopefulnurse on Nov 17, '01
  7. by   RNPD
    You obviously have a problem with this nurse. Unfortunately, the nurse manager seems to believe her, or she never would have doubted that you didn't take a third break. Are any other nurses having problems with her?

    I do need to add something. 4 hours for PM care & paperwork seems quite prolonged to me. I regularly deal with expired patients on my med surg floor-I need to do all the paperwork, comfort the family and assist the CNA with the actual PM care. No way does it take 4 hours. I get it all done within an hour at most-and that is with all the other pateinets-usually 6 or 7-I am caring for. Why would it take 4 hours even if you had to do it yourself? It does seem to me from what you wrote that even if you didn't think you should take another patient, you should have had plenty of time to assist whoever did have to take the patient. Did you offer to do so?

    The nurse you work with sounds like a witch & I wouldn't want to work with her. But from the scenario you put forth here, it sounds as if she may have had a reason to expect you to at least assist with the admit.
  8. by   danielle2000
    I am so sorry to hear this. It is hard enough to come into an area where your stress level is on high and to endure abuse from a crochety nurse is too much. It is apparent that you have no support w/management. I don't believe in anyone running me off a unit unless I say I want to quit. I think you have to stand up to this nurse. You do not have to be violent but you can tell this nurse to go to hell w/a smile. No one should have to take that kind of abuse. There is a serious nursing shortage especially in your field. I would have the meeting tell her face to face w/management present and at the same time hand my resignation . Make the manager feel like crap by telling her/him that I appreciate you hiring me and I love what I do but I will not be subjected to abuse. I have no confidence in management here it would be best for me to find an area that is supportive. When you say that oh they will look stupid. You are a very nice person. That nurse will have a lot to contend with later down the line. Don't feel like you are running because your peace of mind is far more important than that drama in your unit.
  9. by   Zee_RN
    If she has made statements like "I'm gonna punch her," you march yourself into Human Resources...surely your place has a "no tolerance" policy against workplace violence. All employers are required to provide a 'safe environment' to every extent possible. If this woman has made threats, and you have witnesses, then she should be at the very least written up and possibly terminated. A nurse at our facility was suspended for three days for telling another nurse "mess with my schedule and you'll be sorry." That was the extent of the threat and she was SUSPENDED without pay for three workdays. If your place does not back you up on providing a safe workplace, get the heck outta there. Up to you whether you wanted to notify the Occupational Health and Safety Board if they take no action.

    She's a witch; I'm sure she's a miserable person with a miserable life and wants to make sure all around her are miserable too. If she wasn't causing so much pain, I'd say she was to be pitied.
  10. by   P_RN
    I was in a similar situation with my last job...the one I had when I got hurt. The nurse in question was a known trouble maker and had quit to take care of a family member. It took direct action by the nurse manager for her to be allowed to be rehired.

    Well for about a year she performed perfectly and we thought that it was wonderful. That didn't last.....she divorced her hub. the NM divorced hers and these two "got together." They vacationed and night clubbed together.

    The troublemaker would make out the schedule even!
    She always got her vacation and holidays...she got first call for any voluntary days off.

    When it came time for my workers comp hearing she was one of the witnesses........she never showed up! I found out later the carrier had forbidden her to testify for them because of her history.

    This person is a BULLY!!
    Back to your situation....go to the meeting, and you take your own witness and tape it if possible. You should be allowed your own representation. You may want to consider a lawyer or a paralegal. It sounds like you need to get out of there, but it also sounds as if you may have a basis for action.

    Take a prepared statement and do NOT allow them to break you down. Keep cool.

    Find a new position or unit before you quit if possible. Then extend your resignation .

    Good luck. It's their loss not yours. Just think, the rest of them still have to work with her!!!
  11. by   justanurse
    When I first started as a nurse, i worked in our orthopedic department. Longest orientation anyone ever had, cried everyday for weeks when I left. But I got through it and became stronger for it. About 4 years later it was unbearable and I was determined to not allow anyone to run me off the unit. I would stick with it no matter what. Then it hit me one day, I'm not going to allow anyone to make me stay either. I left and felt so much better for it. The manager (who helped orient me) even had the gall to tell me that "we made you into a good nurse". I plainly told her that no, they didn't, & I became a good nurse in spite of what they had done.

    There are a few people out there who will suck the life & joy out of you if you will let them. I know I've worked with a few. The other nurse is apparently out to do that. She is looking to drain you dry. She may see you as the weakest at the moment. That's how those type of people operate: just like a predator, strike the weakest in the pack. Driving the pack apart and go for blood when the separation is made.

    Only you know what you can stand. Is it worth the fight? If it is, go for it. Stand up to all of them and let them know just how you are being treated. Do it with syrupy sweetness: cut them off at the knees. Then go ahead and do just what you are doing: the best for your patient's. We all have to do hard work most days, but some days you just have to refuse to take another admit because you JUST CAN'T DO IT!

    Some families need a long amount of time with nursing staff. Some don't need any at all. And, if you are trying to care for a grieving family, answer phones, make all those calls, the paper work can take a tremendous amount of time. And, no one should forget, how many of us have done all the patient care throughout the day, but still had to stay late and get it all down legally on the chart. Documenting all the care, teaching, interventions, medications, etc, etc, etc.

    On the other hand, if it doesn't feel like you are up to the fight, or just don't want to play the game anymore. Then look for somewhere else that has a supportive environment. Most managers want an exit interview with staff that is leaving anyway where you are free and open to say exactly why you leave.

    In any event, I feel for you and wish you the best. Whatever that may be.
  12. by   deespoohbear
    I don't know what the policy is at your facility about dealing with workplace harrassment, but I sure would be finding out. I would also be keeping a notebook of all the times this nurse has abused you either verbally, emotionally, or mentally. Write down specific comments, witnesses and what action you took to try and diffuse the situation. Also document that you contacted your immediate supervisor of the situation and list her name, title, etc. Document what action the supervisor took in the situation. If need be, I would go all the way to the hospital administrator with my complaints. This gal is not playing with a full deck of cards and the sooner she is dealt with, the better. I would not allow myself to be alone with this other nurse, say like in the med room, or the utlilty room. Sounds like she is just unstable enough to totally come unglued on you!! Good luck, and keep us posted on the outcome.
  13. by   NurseDennie
    Hi -

    Well, I agree with what everybody has said here. Both ways. First of all, it does sound like you've got a basis for "action" one way or the other - if she threatened you, I think that's called assault. I am not a lawyer, but I know it's a no-no.

    And even if there is a zero-tolerance policy, there is no guarantee that she will be punished for what she's done.

    I've seen it happen a couple of times. There are sometimes just poisonous situations where you cannot win. It sounds like you're in one of them. Even with specific complaints, and with witnesses, can you TRUST them?

    I've stood by helplessly (nothing I did made any difference) when a couple of vicious nurses targeted one night nurse after another and just hounded them off the floor. For some reason the NM decided that the poisonous nurses were right and she backed THEM against all the evidence.

    So cut your losses and get out of there. So what if she's getting what she wants if you leave? You're sure to be better off!

    As to whether you could have/should have helped.... it's all subjective, isn't it? It does sound like postmortem care and paperwork tooker longer than I would have needed, but I don't know. Besides, who's going to be gung ho to help somebody who's been a witch to them????

    Get another job, then knock the dust of that place off your Soft-spots for nurses and don't look back.

    Love
    Dennie
  14. by   Andy S.
    Sounds like she needs a little Prozac/Zoloft/Wellbutrin?!!! Heck, maybe all three! LOL. Or maybe just a man! LOL sorry I shouldn't say things like that!
    I say go to the meeting and let your managers know exactly what is going on, but first on your next shift with her take a little tape recorder with you. Leave it recording while she is insulting you. She'll be amazed at how the tune of the mangers changes. If that doesn't fix the problem, transfer and get the heck out of Dodge! Everything in a meeting with the manager has to be kept confidential, when you transfer they legally can not discuss it with the new manager. (check on that, I am pretty sure it is true. It should be the same as if you were aplying for a new job in which case this is true)
    Good Luck!
    Andy

    p.s. Just smile like you know something she doesn't, just makes em even more mad! LOL :P

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