Handling an Emotional Person

  1. Ok Guys,

    I need some sage nursing advice regarding dealing with emotional people, as in when they are worried/concerned with either their child's or person health.

    I am now working at an answering service 2nd shift and a fair majority of the calls I recieve are for a pediatric care office. These calls are from the parents of the children. They are often times very concerned for their child's health, which is why theya re calling. I am to take down pertainent information relating to the "problem" (not being sarcastic, but that is just the word we use for the reason of the call) as well other identifying information for the doctor (such as chart number and parental name and phone number).

    Anyway, I would like to know how exactly I should best handle these calls. I have been using a professional manner with them, but I cant help but feel it to be a bit of a cold way to go about it. Also if it is after 9pm, I have to fax the message to another city for a triage nurse to respond to. So it could be 10-20 minutes (my guess, but I honestly do not know for sure how long it could be) before they hear back. I just wish there were more I could do. But we are not allowed (but for good reason, and I understand the reasons) to give out ANY advice or medical information. Add to that, this office has specifically said not to tell the patients to go to the ER.

    Please help.

    Thanks.
    •  
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   canoehead
    Sounds like a bad idea to not tell pts to go to the ER. If they ask a direct question "Should I go to the ER" do you have to say "no"?

    I would warn them that it will take up to 20min to hear back, and reflect feelings, like "you sound really stressed" or "you must be exhausted" and " it's so hard to wait when your child is ill." Also, if they say they can't wait, the child is too sick (seizing, can't breathe) what options are you allowed to give them? TPTB should not just assume that everyone will automatically know to go to the ER without being told by you. They may assume that since you didn't say "CALL AN AMBULANCE!!" that their child will be OK.
  4. by   nrw350
    What bothers me is that I would think it would be easier to dial 3 numbers than 7 if you know what I mean. If my child were in dire straits as canoehead described I would call 911 first and the doctor second.

    "Hmm, baby can't breathe and its 10 at night, what should I do?"

    The above statement is not meant degrade anybody, just to vent my frustration.

    I have said the triage nurse will call them back shortly. Which is what my boss has said to do. Today she told me if I really feel as though is a life or death emergency not to hesitate to tell them call 911 or go to the ER.

    I am an eagle scout with both the life saving and first aide merit badges, and I have taken a first responsder's class in college, so I understand the importance of the ABC's.

    I just happened to think that maybe the doctor does not want them to go to the ER before calling them because he does not want them to be scared or pannicing without him there to help. Or something along that lines, but I feel that is a little far fetched.

    Have I become too realistic from chatting with nurses all the time, and/or taking those merit badges and class?

    Thanks.
  5. by   purplemania
    I used to phone triage for a pedi clinic. The best way I found for the operator and I to work as a team for the operator to get accurate name, age of child and chief complaint (and PHONE NUMBER. Amazing how many calls I got with wrong numbers). I phoned the parent immediately, regardless of how insignificant it sounded as I felt there could be more to the story or the parent would not be calling. Do not give advice without proper training. It would not hurt, in my opinion, to tell frantic parent you are passing the number on to a nurse but if the parent feels like this is a true emergency it should be handled as such. The sooner you get off the phone the sooner the triage nurse gets the message. Could write a book on the calls I got!!!
  6. by   nrw350
    Yeah, I have made it a point to hold all incoming calls when dealing a triage call. As soon as I get off the line with the parent I am finishing and rechecking the message. Then I print it out and hand write the phone number on it (it will be faxed to thet triage nurse, and the fax sometimes distorts the phone number too badly for it to be legible. I have often wondered how these calls turn out.

    Last night I had a call from a parent with a 2 or 4 wk baby, and after getting off the line with them, I faxed it to the triage nurse. About 30 minutes or so later I get a call from the triage nurse saying that they had been trying to call the parent but the line was busy. So I ask the nurse to hold (hoping that if I dialed the number I would get the parent and then could patch to the two together), and the line was still busy. Suffice to say I was really concerned at that point.

    The nurse said that if the parent called back to just re-dispatch the call to them. They could not just keep trying to call the parent. Neither the nurse or the parent called back. So hopefully, the parent got help, or just all worked out.

    Tonight will be the first Friday that I have worked, so I am little nervous about what it will bring. Hopefully it will go smoothly.
  7. by   PennyLane
    Originally posted by nrw350
    Last night I had a call from a parent with a 2 or 4 wk baby, and after getting off the line with them, I faxed it to the triage nurse. About 30 minutes or so later I get a call from the triage nurse saying that they had been trying to call the parent but the line was busy. So I ask the nurse to hold (hoping that if I dialed the number I would get the parent and then could patch to the two together), and the line was still busy. Suffice to say I was really concerned at that point.
    I don't have any advice to give, but the situation above sounds to me like the parents called 911 or were on the line seeking help.
    :kiss
  8. by   P_RN
    Back in the stone age I was a long distance Operator. Yes just like in the 40's & 50's movies.I had a 12 cord board that you plugged in to each caller. Back then there was no 911....Operator is who got the call.

    It seems that you are doing fairly well. It's OK to show emotion or even better true concern right back to them. An "oh my goodness" is what I'd say.

    If they ask should they go to the ER repeat it back to them...."do YOU think you need to?"

    Do you have 2 lines so that you can call the triage nurse and confirm the fax got there? Ask the nurse what is a reasonable length of time to tell the parents to expect a call. I'd ask Operator to break in on a call, afterall the parents called YOU in an emergency....

    One other thing I liked with the answering service a lot of our docs used is they would call you back in about 15 minutes and ask if the doctor had called yet. If he hadn't they would page him again. That was really good.
  9. by   nrw350
    Of our doctors that are numerically paged to call us back, we ALWAYS set a 15 minute recall to page them AGAIN if they have not called us back. I think part of me is just too concerned for the ill. Which is one reason I did not go into medicine. I CAN NOT stand to hear people suffer. Let alone children!
  10. by   Rapheal
    nrw350, this does not pertain to your thread but I wanted to congratulate you on becoming an Eagle Scout. My dad was a Scout leader and I know this is quite an accomplishment.
  11. by   nrw350
    Thanks Rapheal, if it were not for the Scouts, I would certainly not be the person I am today.

close