Family members make me nervous - page 2

by Florence NightinFAIL 2,391 Views | 16 Comments

Hello, It's been four months as a new grad and thinks are going well so far. Floor is crazy busy but staff is helpful, so I'm grateful for that. Even my patients aren't that bad - medical or personality wise :D The... Read More


  1. 0
    Quote from Missphillynurse
    Though I dont necessarily agree with telling them about how many other pts your dealing with or giving them a "look".

    I was not suggesting to give patients or their family members a "look." I was referencing doctors who rant and rave and try to intimidate nurses. I treat them professionally, and if they cannot do the same, then I look at them like THEY are the fool and walk away. They can come seek me out when they are willing to act reasonable. I am sick of foolish behavior from people who should know better.
  2. 0
    To me, it depends on the question the family asks....I can think of two ways that I usually answer if I don't know it off the top of my head:

    1) If it's something from their chart, I will say, "Let me go look at the chart and double-check, so I can make sure I'm giving you the right answer." This tells them that I DO know, but just want to look again (which is usually the case...if it's say, for lab results, I may not have written anything on my sheet if they were WNL). It also instills confidence that I want to be as thorough as I can be.

    2) If it's a question regarding their condition or a new symptom but it doesn't warrant a call to the doc at that moment (non-emergent), I tell them I'll make sure I leave a note for the doctor and pass the info along to the next shift, so the MD can address it when they come around next. It prevents me from having to "diagnose" the problem, and reassures them that I'm listening to them, and making sure that the doctor will be aware.

    I find that these two answers can deal with most questions asked that I don't have the answer for immediately.
  3. 5
    I'm gonna take a stab at an answer.

    Let me be upfront and honest in saying that after working Med/surg and numerous, numerous other floors over the past 20+ years, the main reason why I work in ICU is to preserve my own sanity.

    I am very detail oriented, and when I'm in a room trying to take care of a patient in a critical condition, the last thing I need is for family members to start asking me questions regarding "critical care 101"...such as; "Well, why does that thing do that?, What does that number mean?, When do you think (insert patient's name here) can go home?, Why does (the patient) have all those wires sticking out of them?", and on and on and on......

    Dear Lord but I do so love visiting hours and limitations on numbers of family in the room at any given time.

    A very famous philosopher once wrote something along the lines of; to know oneself is a pretty cool thing. I KNOW that I cannot stand distractions when I've got thirteen different drips all running out at the same time, a CRRT going on, an insulin drip with q hrly blood sugar checks and rate changes, a vent that is alarming and on and on. Meanwhile, a curious family member is asking me questions one right after another like I'm just there to be on hand to call the Dr. in case something goes wrong. (Deep breath in.....and....*sigh*.....Go to your happy place, go to your happy place, go to your happy place.....)

    My advice to you, is to grab a stack of papers and a pen or pencil and hand them out to each person in the room. When the family members start asking questions and you're not sure what the answer is, tell them that you want to address their concerns and you want to be sure that you understand the questions. Say to them "I want to make sure that I answer the questions that you have for me. Would you please write down a couple of your BIGGEST CONCERNS that you need me to answer for you this shift, and I can work on getting all the facts together for you".

    If the family members write down a questions that looks like something that only a rocket scientist and a crystal ball can answer, then you can tell them; "OOOOooooOooo. This sounds like such a great question for the Dr.!" Is it all right with you if I leave this on the chart for them to address if they don't get back to me before the end of my shift?"

    This, my dear poster, is actually a very good time management skill that also goes by the name of "Delegation".
    Ashley_RN, Soon2BNurse3, JKindRN, and 2 others like this.
  4. 3
    There are 3 answers to a question, yes... no... or "I'll find out".
    Your demeanor when you give one of these replies will be the key as to how you are perceived.
    Yes, confidence is the key.
    I have been a nurse for 30 years. Many times, I don't have the answer for families or docs. I will look them straight in the eye, say "I haven't known this patient long enough to have that information, I will find out as soon as I can , and get back to you."
    It's the simple truth and it works.

    Good luck, it takes time.
  5. 0
    Let me add to 'Been there, done that''s post.

    If a patient would ask me about a new condition or treatment that I was unsure of I would say:

    "Yes, that is a very good question, but I haven't seen the doc yet to ask him/her about it. However, I was in another patient's room just now, so let me check the chart to see if the doc was around and wrote anything. If not, I will call him/her to follow up for you."
  6. 2
    As most of the other poster's have addressed the issue of family member's I will take a stab at how to deal with the doctors. We have a surgeon who is notorious for asking everything about his patients before addressing your concern. Ie, you call because your pt's blood pressure is high, he will ask about jp drain output, foley output, how many doses of antibiotics they have received, their pain level, etc. If you do not immediately have the answer he freaks out. At first he was incredibly intimidating and I and everyone else hated calling him. Now I have got to know him a bit better i realize he is doing this out of concern for his patients. So I make it a priority for his patients to gather all information before calling him, including emptying any drains/tubes, getting a new set of vitals, calculating i&os. with this information presented to him in a confident manner he is nothing but polite and helpful.
  7. 1
    Quote from LouisVRN
    As most of the other poster's have addressed the issue of family member's I will take a stab at how to deal with the doctors. We have a surgeon who is notorious for asking everything about his patients before addressing your concern. Ie, you call because your pt's blood pressure is high, he will ask about jp drain output, foley output, how many doses of antibiotics they have received, their pain level, etc. If you do not immediately have the answer he freaks out. At first he was incredibly intimidating and I and everyone else hated calling him. Now I have got to know him a bit better i realize he is doing this out of concern for his patients. So I make it a priority for his patients to gather all information before calling him, including emptying any drains/tubes, getting a new set of vitals, calculating i&os. with this information presented to him in a confident manner he is nothing but polite and helpful.
    We have a couple of docs like that too. Initially one might think they are simply arrogant buttheads, but the truth is that they want to know all of the information so they can make a decision without having to come in and look at all of that data for themselves. They seem to expect their patient's nurses to have their stuff together. I also always make sure that I know all of the things that these docs want to know befoe I call. I have found that they are much nicer to me than some of the others because I conduct myself like a professional and I know my stuff. I do not call needlessly and I do my job.
    Missphillynurse likes this.


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