Dear nurse, I really don't want to bother you

  1. I saw this on an ER thread and I feel it needs to be discussed. Before anyone flames me, this post is not intended to attack nurses, especially ER nurses. I feel that I do need some clarification about what nurses consider to be a "bother."

    Originally Posted by RunnerRN

    14) Just because you or your family member says "I know you're busy" or "I'm sorry to bother you" before making another dumb request (another blanket, when will my room be ready, etc) does not make me less busy or you less of a bother.
    OK, not to be another scolding student, but this one did bother me. It is natural to want to make your family member comfortable during their stay in the ER, even if their need perhaps isn't as urgent as the dying patient down the hall. The family member is at least showing some politeness and sensitivity for the nurse. They are not trying to be a bother. It's just that their family member is sick (even if there are other people there who are sicker) and they are trying to get their needs met.

    Trust me, if I knew where the blanket/clean sheet/washcloth/emesis basin was, and I was allowed access to the supply closet, I'd get it myself and not bother you. But I'm a "guest" in the ER, so I have no choice but to bother the nurse or leave my family member cold/wet/dirty/thirsty etc. So to all you hardworking ER nurses, I'm sorry to bother you, I know you're busy, but I will advocate for my family member when I accompany them to the ER.

    Point is, from a patient's perspective it's hard to know what will be considered unreasonable. I don't think it's unreasonable to want to be comfortable if you're really not feeling well. I'm not talking about patients who have no reason to be in the ER. I'm talking about patients who truly are sick, but are stable and not about to die. Should their need for comfort be ignored because there are patients who are so much sicker? As a family member, I hate to bother the nurse because I know how much she has to do--but as I said, I'm a guest in their facility and I really don't know where things are. If I could take care of it myself, I would.

    It's not just in the ER that this is an issue. I'm one of the least demanding people you'll ever meet, yet I have been in hospital situations where I was made to feel like a "bother." That's one reason I chose to have my babies at home. The OB nurses during my first birth were great, but the postpartum nurses acted like I was a big pain. When I have my babies at home I'm on my own turf and can look after my own comfort, and the midwife is there to assist me. I am not a bother to anyone.

    I don't really know what the resolution to the problem is. I know nurses are overworked as it is and can't be all things to all people at all times. I also know that there are whiners and unreasonable people out there who demand all sorts of things that are not their right at all. But should a patient with a legitimate (although not desperate) need be ignored simply because other people have bigger needs? Maybe hospitals can have the most necessary supplies readily available so family members can provide the comfort care when nurses are too busy to do so? I really don't want to bother the nurse, but it's frustrating to be so dependent on people who have much more important things to do than tend to you.
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  2. 64 Comments

  3. by   angel337
    i have been in the ER close to 9 years, first as a tech and now a nurse. it does not bother me at all when patients/families make requests. some people can be very needy, but all in all it really doesn't make a difference to me, because if i am available to assist them i will and if i am not i am not. when its busy i will tell a patient "i'm sorry i couldn't get that pillow/blanket for you earlier, but i had a really sick patient next door" blah, blah. most people do understand. i don't want family members or patient to feel like they are a burden to me, after all they are there for medical treatment. i could easily be in their shoes one day and i do believe what comes around goes around. i think that most of the complaints that you read on this bb are just vents. nothing more.
  4. by   lorster
    Well obviously this person had not spent even five minutes at the bedside. I know as a nurse of 18 years, I set my priorities. If I have six patients and one is having chest pain and one wants a warm blanket, i'm afraid the chest pain takes priority and we all know how long it takes to tend to that one patient who is having chest pain. I feel that I am an efficient nurse but I do forget requests from patients from time to time. We are working in times where there is one of us with five and more patients at a time. Patients are extremely ill when they come in and as nurses, we are constantly setting priorities and the most critical situations get taken care of first. I know as a patient, that is what I would want. Too often, television portrays our profession as a bunch of tall skinny blonds, gossiping at the nurses station and playing practical jokes on each other. That is not what goes on on the unit where I work. I do feel that every patient has the right to get the best care possible but realistically, anything that can go wrong, usually does and we are human and can only do so much. I don't believe that many nurses feel that the patient is "bothering them" but I do know there are patients..and families out there that won't even get their own kleenix out of the box. These are the patients that the program was most likely "poking fun" at.
  5. by   purple_rose_3
    All I'm going to say about this is, when you become a nurse you will understand what the OP was trying to convey by that statement.
  6. by   CritterLover
    • Quote from chayan
      but should a patient with a legitimate (although not desperate) need be ignored simply because other people have bigger needs? maybe hospitals can have the most necessary supplies readily available so family members can provide the comfort care when nurses are too busy to do so? i really don't want to bother the nurse, but it's frustrating to be so dependent on people who have much more important things to do than tend to you.

    no, they shouldn't be ignored, or feel that they shouldn't ask. however, they need to understand that i might not be able to get that blanket (or whatever) right then and there. even if we don't look busy. 'cause i don't look very busy when i'm on hold with the lab trying to get the result of that critical lab value, but i can't stop what i am doing.

    and that, my friend, is the problem. when you or your loved one is sick, the whole world begins to revolve around you and your loved one. it is difficult to think of that other patient. all you can think of is that your mom is cold, hungry, and in pain. and this is a reasonable perspective, it really is. but, that is not the average nurse's perspective. nurses in general (especially er nurses) are constantly trying to prioritize. and unfortunatly, unless the patient is hypoglycemic and hypothermic, food and warm blanket isn't my top priority. :spin:

    so, it is ok to ask for the meal tray/blanket/glass of water, as long as you promise to forgive us (and not write nasty comments on the press-gainey survey) if you have to ask again.

    as to having a supply of comfort-type stuff for family to have access to, there is a reason why we keep tight control of that stuff:

    1. food. not everyone can have it. we only want to feed the patients. family only gets food in very special circumstances. some patients can't have it, either.

    2. warm blankets. one tends to shiver/feel cold when one has a fever. depending on how high that fever is, you may not get even a sheet from me, much less a warm blanket. in fact, if the fever is high enough, be glad i'm not taking more drastic (and very uncomfortable) measures to cool you down!

    3. everything else. you would be surprised at how many people consider the er to be their own personal drug store/linen store/wound care supply store..... you would be amazed at the stuff that comes up missing. in fact, there is a fairly old thread on the very subject. i, personally, have seen gowns, pillows (at $90 a pop), blankets, sheets, ky jelly, the stirrups from the ob stretcher , dopplers, and countless bandage supplies disappear, to name just a few. people seem to have the notion that hospitals are rich, and they will take what they can walk out with. no, thank you, we will keep the stuff hidden!
    Last edit by CritterLover on Jan 5, '07
  7. by   traumagirll99
    To answer the question re people with lesser needs being ignored versus people with Bigger needs, as a 16 year ER nurse I would have to say Yes at times. I only say this after having dealt with a very angry pt this past Sat. night who felt like she had to wait a "whole 30 minutes for a warm blanket" because all of the ER nurses and 2 doctors were trying to revive a 3 year old little boy (and we failed.) So excuse me if when you start with the "I don't want to complain or be a bother" I cut you off and tell you that sometimes we all have to wait for things. I always feel like when a pt or their devoted families preface their request by saying that they are implying that the entire er is somewhat being not so nice towards them. ER medicine and nursing is not always about warm blankets, cold water, pillows and the other nice things. ER medicine and nursing is bottom line about saving lives not customer service as defined by the general public.
  8. by   Cmariehart
    I know this will probably irritate some people but I have to say it and it's a true story....

    Please remember that YOU ARE NOT A GUEST in the ER but your loved one is a patient here....

    And yes I understand that your loved one may want something OR maybe you want something for them, but please remember that ER stands for emergency room.

    Getting that blanket/drink/pillow/ whatever you need is not at the top of my to do list...
    That guy in the hall c/o:
    chest pain
    bleeding
    seizing
    having trouble breathing
    These people have priority because it is an emergency.. And yes when things calm down (hopefully) I will bring your loved one that blanket they needed....

    When I walk in to that room and the window is wide open and its rainy and cold outside, I'm gonna be a little pissed off..... because you're sitting on the edge of your loved one's bed, blabing away on your cell phone while they're shivering and you're the moron that opened the window in the first place... And just so you know I don't care if you're 26 and "it's too stuffy in here" but grandma is 91 and when you're her age your circulation isn't all that great and she needs it to be stuffy in here and that giant white thing on her leg that's a cast and I bet she needs a pain pill because you're sitting on it!!!!!!!!!!!
  9. by   RYNOBLASTER30
    Quote from lorster
    Well obviously this person had not spent even five minutes at the bedside. I know as a nurse of 18 years, I set my priorities. If I have six patients and one is having chest pain and one wants a warm blanket, i'm afraid the chest pain takes priority and we all know how long it takes to tend to that one patient who is having chest pain. I feel that I am an efficient nurse but I do forget requests from patients from time to time. We are working in times where there is one of us with five and more patients at a time. Patients are extremely ill when they come in and as nurses, we are constantly setting priorities and the most critical situations get taken care of first. I know as a patient, that is what I would want. Too often, television portrays our profession as a bunch of tall skinny blonds, gossiping at the nurses station and playing practical jokes on each other. That is not what goes on on the unit where I work. I do feel that every patient has the right to get the best care possible but realistically, anything that can go wrong, usually does and we are human and can only do so much. I don't believe that many nurses feel that the patient is "bothering them" but I do know there are patients..and families out there that won't even get their own kleenix out of the box. These are the patients that the program was most likely "poking fun" at.
    This will solve the problem: Listen here all of you managers, nursing supervisors, and DON. We are not all and mighty. Get us more ancillary staff to meet the needs of our patients, otherwise care will always be substandard. Thanks for listening.
  10. by   LeahJet
    I know this may sound bad but sometimes....no matter how sweet or diplomatic people are...it's still a bother. "Bother" may be a harsh word. Maybe inconvenient is better.
    For instance, just the other night, I had a major trauma with an appendage literally hanging off. I was rushing to the Supply Pyxis (with a doc waiting on me) when a sweet little lady was following me chanting the "I hate to bother you........". She was extremely sweet but she had several requests during the previous hour. It DOES get frustrating.

    We also have to remember that the thread the OP is referring to was a venting/fun thread.
  11. by   Indy
    Quote from traumagirll99
    To answer the question re people with lesser needs being ignored versus people with Bigger needs, as a 16 year ER nurse I would have to say Yes at times. I only say this after having dealt with a very angry pt this past Sat. night who felt like she had to wait a "whole 30 minutes for a warm blanket" because all of the ER nurses and 2 doctors were trying to revive a 3 year old little boy (and we failed.) So excuse me if when you start with the "I don't want to complain or be a bother" I cut you off and tell you that sometimes we all have to wait for things. I always feel like when a pt or their devoted families preface their request by saying that they are implying that the entire er is somewhat being not so nice towards them. ER medicine and nursing is not always about warm blankets, cold water, pillows and the other nice things. ER medicine and nursing is bottom line about saving lives not customer service as defined by the general public.
    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Would you like to come precept nurses in my facility's ER? I'm about blankets, water, pillows and nice things too but I'd like my ER to be about stabilizing people, not handing popsicles to people in acute respiratory distress just before they send them to my care.
  12. by   wonderbee
    "We're not running a hotel here." This was a quote to me from a supervisor trying to redirect me to more urgent needs while working on a critical care unit. She's right. I'm going into hospice nursing where comfort is the #1 priority. Sorry folks. But if you try to do it all, you'll burn out.
  13. by   JeanettePNP
    Quote from lorster
    Well obviously this person had not spent even five minutes at the bedside.
    [Sigh] I knew I was going to get slammed for even posting this with my lack of nursing experience. I thought I made it clear that it was not a vent against nurses. I KNOW YOU HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO!! My question is what can I, as a family member, do to take care of my loved one when the nurses are too busy to do so? I would love to tend to their needs myself and not bother you. I don't want to ask for water when the person down the hall is in full cardiac arrest. But I do feel the need to do something more than tell them "just sit tight a little longer until the nurse has time to take care of you." Again, I am not expecting the nurse to drop everything to do it for me.
  14. by   scrmblr
    Quote from ChayaN
    [Sigh] I knew I was going to get slammed for even posting this with my lack of nursing experience. I thought I made it clear that it was not a vent against nurses. I KNOW YOU HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO!! My question is what can I, as a family member, do to take care of my loved one when the nurses are too busy to do so? I would love to tend to their needs myself and not bother you. I don't want to ask for water when the person down the hall is in full cardiac arrest. But I do feel the need to do something more than tell them "just sit tight a little longer until the nurse has time to take care of you." Again, I am not expecting the nurse to drop everything to do it for me.
    Telling them to sit tight is totally appropriate. It is not a matter of "better things to do" it is a priority list. Child with breathing difficulty takes priority over water and warm blanket for grandma.

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