Getting yelled at by a doctor for the first time....

  1. So, I've been a nurse for about 6 months now and have been off orientation since the end of October, so I'm still pretty new and still learning new things. Today, I had a doctor yell at me for the first time.

    Long story short, the attending dr and the consulting dr both agreed to discharge my patient. However, none of them were able to write a pain script for discharge. When brought to the attention of the attending that rounded that day, he basically said, "oh, well, she'll just have to stay another night and then go home tomorrow. I'm home now and won't come in to write a script."

    The patient was devastated and stated her frustration with this. She also lives hours away and told me about having to get her son back home so he can get back to school. As her advocate, I did my best to try to make her discharge happen, because I feel like staying another night for just a pain script is a pretty poor reason to have to stay. I had called a partner of the attending who was also rounding that day, but was not the "on-call" dr. I didn't think anything of this because this dr was rounding with the on-call dr that day, and made the mistake of thinking that he too was on-call for that group. He was more than happy to help discharge the patient. The patient was so happy and thankful that I was able to get her out that day and I felt good that I was able to help her and her son.

    At at the end of my shift, I had received a call from the on-call dr who had called me just to yell at me over the phone about the patients discharge. He said things like "How DARE you go behind my back and call another dr!!!" and "you better NEVER let this happen again." I've never had anyone speak to me the way he did and I kind of froze on the phone. I apologized to him for any mistakes that I had made and he hung up on me.

    Has as anyone else experienced this? How do you deal with this? I was feeling so good and finally starting to feel like I'm doing a good job at work, now I feel like a horrible nurse....
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  2. 88 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Oh my if I had dollar for every time in the last 21 years......

    I have learned to reply very calmly and professionally: "I cannot carry on a conversation with a person who is yelling at or rude to me but will be happy to continue when you feel more reasonable and ready to talk earnestly."

    If we are face-to-face, I have the "nurses' stare". I just drop what I am doing and stare right at them as if to say "really now"? No words just that. Usually shuts em up post-haste.

    If on the phone they continue yelling after I try to calm them, I hang up. Seriously. You are not a punching bag or doctor's toy. You are educated professional entitled to professional treatment from anyone, including doctors. Never doubt it.
  4. by   NurseCard
    Eh. You did fine. The doctor that yelled at you was being a jerk. I mean
    seriously, the only thing holding up discharge, was the woman needing
    a written script for her pain med. What I MIGHT have done, was called
    the attending back and said "Look, the only thing holding up this lady's
    discharge is her needing a written script. Dr. Jones is here and said he
    would write it. Is that OK?"

    Doctors tend to get their knickers in a wad rather easily over some
    things. Must be from getting bullied as a kid or something.
  5. by   EllaBella1
    I'm sorry that you had to deal with that. I remember the first time it happened to me as well. It will continue to happen, but next time you'll be better prepared to stick up for yourself.

    I once had a surgeon scream at me on the phone when I called her for orders because a drain wasn't working. She berated me and asked if I knew how a foley worked, and told me that the drain in question was "just like a foley" (it wasn't) and that I should be able to figure it out. I cut her right off and told her that I'm her colleague, and that I expect to be met with the same respect that she expects from her colleagues. She hung up on me, but it really felt good to stand up for myself. She's been super nice to me ever since that phone call too. And luckily her fellow fixed my drain .
    Last edit by EllaBella1 on Jan 17
  6. by   Been there,done that
    You handled the situation for your patient perfectly.

    "I apologized to him for any mistakes " is where you went wrong. Never let Dr. God speak to you that way,let alone apologize. Back in the day.. I had a jerk doc attending point his finger at me for calling his pager, instead of his office. I told him to put that effing finger down.

    You are standing up for your patient, now stand up for yourself.
  7. by   Here.I.Stand
    YOU, Nurse, did the right thing. Please don't let this jerk's unprofessional behavior get to you like this. And as Been there,done that said, you had nothing to apologize for.

    I mean really...keep this poor woman in the hospital for another day -- where her sleep will be interrupted and her bed will be uncomfortable? Where she/insurance will be billed for a day that's not medically warranted?? That's just stupid.
  8. by   SaltySarcasticSally
    Yah, shut that down in the future. I was an LPN for years before my RN and worked closely with providers since I was in ambulatory care. For some odd reason, some providers like to see what they can get away with. It took me a while to learn how to shut it down professionally but you will learn too. They are your colleagues, they have no business acting like children.

    You did great for your patient!!
  9. by   macawake
    Quote from NewbieNurse93
    Has as anyone else experienced this? How do you deal with this? I was feeling so good and finally starting to feel like I'm doing a good job at work, now I feel like a horrible nurse....
    You are NOT a horrible nurse.

    Quote from NewbieNurse93
    I apologized to him for any mistakes that I had made and he hung up on me.
    You did NOT make a mistake and you did NOT owe the doc an apology.

    Quote from NewbieNurse93
    Today, I had a doctor yell at me for the first time.
    I've been yelled at by a handful of physicians in the past ten years. I have never had the same physician yell at me twice. Ever.

    Quote from NewbieNurse93
    I had called a partner of the attending who was also rounding that day, but was not the "on-call" dr. I didn't think anything of this because this dr was rounding with the on-call dr that day, and made the mistake of thinking that he too was on-call for that group. He was more than happy to help discharge the patient. The patient was so happy and thankful that I was able to get her out that day and I felt good that I was able to help her and her son.

    At at the end of my shift, I had received a call from the on-call dr who had called me just to yell at me over the phone about the patients discharge. He said things like "How DARE you go behind my back and call another dr!!!" and "you better NEVER let this happen again."
    So how did the on-call doc find out that you'd gotten the other doctor to write the script for pain medication so that the patient could be discharged in a timely fashion? I'm guessing Dr. Surplus Decibels talked to Dr. Script Writer... And Dr. S. Decibels felt like an idiot for not taking proper care of his patient himself... Soooo... he calls you up and yells at you...

    I can remember two occasions pretty early on in my nursing career when I was yelled at by two different physicians for no good reason. One was over the phone and I simply stated "Doctor, I'm going to hang up now. Please call me back when you've had time to calm down". Click. (This matter wasn't life-or-death and I had a plan B in case he hadn't called back. He did however, after about ten or fifteen minutes).

    The second time this happened was with a mercurial-tempered surgeon, famous for his rude and loud outbursts. I admit that I was helped in this situation by a previous career in that I am quite used to aggressive behavior and it takes a lot to faze me. I knew that this doc intimidated a lot of my coworkers but I simply will not tolerate a bully (and he met every criteria). I deliberately stepped into his personal space and just stared at him for a minute. Being showered by flying spittle wasn't the most pleasant of experiences but I could tell he found it a bit unnerving and was starting to lose steam... As the tirade dwindled down and I could finally get a word in edgewise I calmly told him: "Doctor... (heavy emphasis on the word doctor)... You have spent twelve years of your life training for your job... You are skilled in diagnosing various afflictions that can affect the human body... Has.. ANYTHING... I've done led you to believe that I'm hard of hearing?" Slightly inquisitive facial expression in place... Looking straight into his eyes... Breathing calmly...

    It worked. He was done yelling. He never yelled at me again, nor did I ever hear him yell at anyone else after we had this little conversation.

    OP, I think that NurseCard's suggestion is a good one. You could have called the on-call and kept him in the loop as a courtesy, but I don't think your failure to do so deserves rude yelling. Very few things do. You did right by your patient and spared her the totally unnecessary extra nights' hospital stay and perhaps also the added cost for that extra day. You did fine.

    How I handle things might not be ideal for everyone. We are different and we respond to uncomfortable situations and conflict differently depending on our respective personalities and experiences. So you need to find a way that aligns with your personality, but somehow you do need to find a way to stand up for yourself. People who behave this way towards you will likely continue to do so if the aren't informed that their behavior will not be tolerated. I think the most important thing is to remain calm and just state clearly that this is not the way you want to be addressed and that you expect them to act as professionals in the work arena.

    I'm sorry that you were treated this way.
  10. by   cinnamonlove
    Hi NewbieNurse93, ASN, RN,
    You must felt hurt and in pain by your doctor's anger outbursts. I really do feel you but I am going to give an advice and hopefully will help you in the future to maintain a healthy and respectful atmosphere at your work place. Please, please try always to communicate your needs directly with the person you are interacting with. You could explain to the doc in charge why Pt xy needed to be charged today instead of waiting another day due to her need to be....... whatsoever... if this does not help then
    nothing you can do about it. You could go back to the Pt and let her know that you tried your best and apologize for the inconvenient. I do understand why your doc reacted that way, I am not saying is right but I do empathize with his anger. He was trying to tell you behind his anger ''I feel disrespected and not taken seriously for my decisions as a doc.''. He is not a jerk like people insulted him, he is just does not know how to express his needs in a respectful manner. Many people they do not know how to use the non-violent communication instead to communicate what we want, we say what we don't want. In conclusion, try to feel empathy for people who may react the way, you won't like it because they don't know better. They are raised like this and you won't be able to fix it. Next time, try to communicate open and honest with your doctors and colleagues it will save you a lot of drama. I am glad that you apologized to him so, it means that you recognized what you did wrong.
    God bless!
    Last edit by cinnamonlove on Jan 17
  11. by   cinnamonlove
    NurseCARD, I agree with your advice but not with your insult. Please avoid to judge people. So, if a patient gets mad at you and yells, are you going to call him also a .....? I really feel sad about your judgment.
    Last edit by cinnamonlove on Jan 17
  12. by   macawake
    Quote from cinnamonlove
    Hi NewbieNurse93, ASN, RN,
    Many people they do not know how to use the non-violent communication instead to communicate what we want, we say what we don't want. In conclusion, try to feel empathy for people who may react the way, you won't like it because they don't know better. They are raised like this and you won't be able to fix it. Next time, try to communicate open and honest with your doctors and colleagues it will save you a lot of drama. I am glad that you apologized to him so, it means that you recognized what you did wrong.
    God bless!
    (my bold)

    Are you seriously suggesting that we should just accept that some people can't communicate in a non-violent manner? I disagree. First of all, aggression and violence isn't acceptable behavior in the workplace (or in society in general). Also, it's been my experience that most people are capable of and will adjust their behavior in a positive direction if they are sufficiently motivated.
  13. by   blondy2061h
    Where do you live that providers can't write scripts from home? 1985?
  14. by   DowntheRiver
    Quote from blondy2061h
    Where do you live that providers can't write scripts from home? 1985?
    Here in Florida, I believe most narcotic scripts need an actual signature on them and not a printed/stamped signature.

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