Dr. ripped my co-worker a new one for no reason

  1. I am a RN nursing student and what happend at work today makes me want to chnage my major. One of my co-workers paged a Dr. to see what time he was planning to make rounds, this was like at 1pm so it wasn't like we woke him up. The pts. family members had plans for x-mas shopping ect. and had already been waiting all morning to speak to the Dr. When my co-worker reached the Dr. he began yelling at her over the phone and said you can't tell me how to care for my pts. I got to hand it to her she held her ground and was assertive during the whole conversation. The charge nurse heard what was going on so she was atleast a witness and also the nursing supervisor just happend to walk onto the floor also. No Dr. has the right to treat anyone like this and this is not the first time he has yelled at a nurse on the phone, it was a different nurse the last time. She went to management and they were suppost to handle it. Obviously it has not been resolved. Any ideas on how to handle this situation? Should you hang up on them?
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   ktwlpn
    Quote from pnkprincess
    I am a RN nursing student and what happend at work today makes me want to chnage my major. One of my co-workers paged a Dr. to see what time he was planning to make rounds, this was like at 1pm so it wasn't like we woke him up. The pts. family members had plans for x-mas shopping ect. and had already been waiting all morning to speak to the Dr. When my co-worker reached the Dr. he began yelling at her over the phone and said you can't tell me how to care for my pts. I got to hand it to her she held her ground and was assertive during the whole conversation. The charge nurse heard what was going on so she was atleast a witness and also the nursing supervisor just happend to walk onto the floor also. No Dr. has the right to treat anyone like this and this is not the first time he has yelled at a nurse on the phone, it was a different nurse the last time. She went to management and they were suppost to handle it. Obviously it has not been resolved. Any ideas on how to handle this situation? Should you hang up on them?
    well...after experiencing the wrath from both sides in several situations I no longer get involved .I am not anyone's secretary or answering service-I have to focus on the pt's care and their needs-not the families needs.......I encourage the family to get in touch with the doctor themselves directly to try and set up a meeting and will also refer them to social services if they are not getting a response back from the md..........If the patient is alert and oriented then the doc really is not going to violate their privacy (not supposed to,I should say) If the patient cannot speak for themselves then the family needs to take the responsibilty for communicating with the md....
    I don't mean to sound harsh and I know what it is like to be the family member of that patient firsthand-and I took it upon myself to communicate with the docs-the nurses were way too busy... So-I would NOT have made that phone call (CHRISTMAS SHOPPING? well-whoop dee doo-I guess momma or poppa isn't that bad off anyway...)-but if a doc ever treats me like that I will hang up or walk away-after telling him why I am doing so....Most facilities have policies regarding this type of behavior-there are other threads about abusive docs here-look them up....I wonder if the person that made the call ever gets her work done in a timely manner?-who has time for that kind of baloney? We are nursing professionals.....
  4. by   SarasotaRN2b
    While I find the doctor's behavior totally offensive and abusive, I can see ktwlpn's view about not calling for a reason like this. Since this is an MD you want to have as little to do with as possible, I would save calling for patient-only issues. While this doctor does have a past record for this behavior, there is also a possibility that he was dealing with a situation and as we all know, when stress is high, the nearest bystander can get the brunt of this horrible behavior.

    Seeing that the events of the conversation was witnessed, I probably would have just closed the conversation with a "fine, doctor" and hung up.
  5. by   meownsmile
    Drs are a funny breed,, they still seem to think the world should wait for them to make their appearance and be grateful when they do. At my hospital we never know from one day to the next when the drs will be making rounds. I try not to get into discussions with family about when they might be in. I usually will tell them at the onset there is no way to predict when they may be in. Some actually do try to make more regular times for rounds but others are totally unpredicatable. We used to have one that would come in late at night, 10-12pm. Others might be in at 6am.
    I have had patients threaten to walk if the doctor doesnt come in because they are waiting to be discharged, per conversation with the dr from the previous day. In that case i do page/call them at home or whatever needs to be done to reach the dr. and i tell them exactly what the patient is intending. That usually either gets me orders over the phone or they get themselves in there. They know that the insurance will most likely deny paying a claim on a patient that leaves AMA, and they dont want to have to squeeze blood from a turnip so to speak to get paid. So they tend to get themselves in there if confronted with a AMA situation.
  6. by   begalli
    On behalf of families I would just like to say that not all families have a health care professional among them who knows that it's "okay" to question or request a doctors "precious" time. Many in fact (mine included during my dad's long illness) are completely intimidated by docs and look to the nurses to be the liason between them. This, I feel, is part of advocating for the patient as a whole.

    I had to teach my mom that doctors are people too. That they don't hold some grand superiority over her just because they are doctors and believe me, she found out after about the second month that she knew more about my dad than many of the residents that were coming through what seemed like an endless revolving door to my dad's hospital room.

    Nurses are busy and that's the problem and it's a very deep rooted problem that is the topic of endless justified complaints about their jobs and working conditions. A referral to the social worker is totally appropriate when family has a difficult time reaching or talking with a doctor OR if the RN can't give a good answer. Getting a nurse manager involved is also totally appropriate.

    What really killed me is that the nurses who cared for my dad were so busy that they couldn't even answer simple questions about his condition...labs, the meds he was on (they knew for their shift but that was it). They did try however to get a hold of docs when asked. It eventually came down to me getting the pager number and the attendings secretary's number and we eventually just ended up calling him directly. But that was me. I can't see all families doing that and I would never expect them to without guidance and support.

    Just another point of view.
    Last edit by begalli on Dec 19, '04
  7. by   mrdoc2005
    I don't think I would have called the MD for this. Yes, they are human and you have every right to question them. But, keep in mind they are also busy people and this was not an issue that would be worth taking them away from other patients who maybe waiting in their waiting rooms.

    The MD should not have yelled at her/him but maybe reminded the nurse that this issue was not worth a page. If the MD has a office with a sec. them I may have called that person to get an idea of the timeline
    Last edit by mrdoc2005 on Dec 19, '04
  8. by   LoriChr
    Quote from mrdoc2005
    The MD should not have yelled at her/him but maybe reminded the nurse that this issue was not worth a page. If the MD has a office with a sec. them I may have called that person to get an idea of the timeline
    I agree with this. As a nurse in a surgeon's office, I see this from the other side. We get calls all the time from hospital nurses who have patients wondering an approximate time the surgeon might be rounding. We are usually in a position to give them some type of timeline, as we know their office schedule and their caseload in the ER.
  9. by   DutchgirlRN
    I agree that your friend should not have called this Doc to see what time he was going to make rounds. It's not an unreasonable question if you already have him on the phone for some other reason but to specifically call him for that reason is not appropriate. With that said the Doc should have handled it better. If it were me, the next time I saw that Doc I would tell him I'm sorry I was wrong to call you but I wish you wouldn't have yelled at me, I didn't deserve that either.

    Families get really irritated all the time waiting for the Doc's to round and frequently threaten to leave AMA. They don't realize that it's not a threat to us but only to themselves as their insurance companies will not pay their bills. Once I explain this to the patient they usually defuse.

    I'm sure I would get irritated too but lets face it "That's just the way it is with Doc's" and certainly many times their tardiness is warranted, especially with surgeons.
    Last edit by RN1976Nurse on Dec 19, '04
  10. by   MZachry
    Although I do not believe the Dr. should have yelled at the RN, I agree this is not a reason to have him paged. HOWEVER...this person is only a student, and good thing. This is a good thing to learn as a student, not after finishing. Students must realize that we WILL have to deal with yelling Dr.s, family members, and at times, other coworkers. (sad but true)

    All I can say is take this as a lesson learned, and never do it! Don't let anyone take you away from your dream of becoming an RN, not even a Dr. who was probably just upset because he was busy and got interupted for a frivolous reason. Tomorrow's another day, don't hold a grudge, and just make sure you are the best nurse you can be!
  11. by   DutchgirlRN
    Quote from MZachry
    Although I do not believe the Dr. should have yelled at the RN, I agree this is not a reason to have him paged. HOWEVER...this person is only a student, and good thing. This is a good thing to learn as a student, not after finishing. Students must realize that we WILL have to deal with yelling Dr.s, family members, and at times, other coworkers. (sad but true)

    All I can say is take this as a lesson learned, and never do it! Don't let anyone take you away from your dream of becoming an RN, not even a Dr. who was probably just upset because he was busy and got interupted for a frivolous reason. Tomorrow's another day, don't hold a grudge, and just make sure you are the best nurse you can be!
    GOOD ADVICE !
  12. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Although I do not believe the Dr. should have yelled at the RN, I agree this is not a reason to have him paged.
    I agree.
  13. by   TracyB,RN
    JMHO, but if I was that doc, I would have been highly PO'd to get a page like that... someone is antsy to go shopping & sick of waiting for the doc.... HELLLLOOOOO.... when are these folks in management gonna get it.... it's not customer satisfaction. It is patient care!!! That doc was probably seeing pts in the office & that office pt ended up getting the short straw b/c someone was tired of waiting!?!?! Did the doctor specifically tell the family "I will be there at 10am to discuss your loved one & his/her condition".... I highly doubt it. If so, then I can understand the family's frustration, but how worried can they really be if they are going shopping... Maybe I have been spoiled at previous jobs b/c we had a schedule of our unit docs & the "approximate" times that they are in house for rounds. We had a list of other docs & their office hours, & would try to guide the family.... "sometimes they come in during lunch break, or before or after office hours." What was wrong with getting a cell # from the family & having the doc call the family on the cell when he/she got to the hospital to round. I have NEVER had a doc refuse that request. Either this doc is a flaming jerk, or the family members are....
    Not to say that I have never had a doctor be snippy with me, but usually would handle that by telling the doctor that I am the nurse caring for their patient & yelling at me is not getting the patient taken care of... If the yelling continued, I have told a doc when you can speak to me like the professional that I am, I will be happy to discuss this with you when you are ready, say goodbye, & hang up. That doc actually called back & apologized & bought my shift pizza the next time I worked.....
    I think people tend to forget that just b/c a doc is a doc, doesn't mean they don't get tired, ill, or sometimes just are having a S*** day.
    We would also make it a point to try to batch all non-emergent pages so we could pass the phone around or tell the doc that so & so also needs to speak with you regarding pt.x... makes for a much happier doc with prompt return calls.
    Last edit by TracyB,RN on Dec 19, '04 : Reason: left out a thought
  14. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I guess my question would be if this is a doc who routinely yells at staff for every little thing. If not, then I would not get my undies in a bind about it......it could be the family's sense of entitlement was annoying him. That will do it everytime for me.

    However, IF they were PROMISED a d/c time, that would be reason for the family to be upset, indeed.

    Now, if the doctor is known for doing this routinely and inappropriately, then it should be addressed.

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