Patient complaints

  1. I am not sure if this is unusal but it seems that in the hospital I work at I have had more patient complaints then I ever had before. The latest was a person who complained of SOB, tingling and a feeling of chest pressure. I checked vital they were ok, (unmonitored floor), I continued to monitor the patient and then called the doctor. The MD had me call the hospitalist. They came to see pt. ordered, chest x-ray, ct, blood gases, more blood work, ekg.
    Everything was negative. However in the morning a second troponin was slightly elevtaed. An EMT with the family began telling them if the nurse, hospital knew what they were doing they would have known it was an MI?? I spoke to the MD later she said the only basis for considering this an MI was the troponin, no other test exam backed this up.
    A complaint was made to the nurse manager stating I did nothing for the pt. Xrays, ct, abg, ekg etc. doesn't strike me as nothing. However the hospital chooses not to back staff rather tell the family that they will need to talk to the nurse. A second complaint was that the pt felt they didn't get adequate care at night, nothing specific, they never named a nurse but the nurse manager decided that since I had cared for her one day I must be the guilty party. I am a relatively new nurse and new to this floor, are these types of problems common at all hospitals? I alway thought I got along well with patients... I'm not sure anymore.
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  2. 32 Comments

  3. by   augigi
    Make sure you document your actions and recollections in case you need it later. In most pt complaints, the hospital will back themselves. Sounds like you did fine. I would talk to my nurse manager and ask what their concerns are and what you can do, if anything, to allay them. Maybe they just have a problem with you?
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    document, document, document, it all!
  5. by   jo272wv
    its a shame but these situations do arise, sounds like managment may have a PR agenda over fact finding. As you learn in school and will continue to learn on the job, document, document , document this way you have a written record of times and outcomes to back you up. It may help to remember to keep in constant communication with the pt and family on actions you take concerning their loved one. Four example, I talked to the doctor and he ordered this this and this, he will discuss the results with you when he receives them, what can I do to make the wait easyer for you? this may but not always ease their frustaration and show them you care.
  6. by   HuggyPuglet
    Yes, I'm familiar with the "armchair MDs". They seem to come out of the woodwork with their knowledge gained from magazine articles, incomplete facts and what the neighbor's uncle's friend told them.

    EMTs are good people that do a fantastic job, but they are NOT nurses, and NOT doctors, just as we are NOT EMTs and could not presume to know what to do if placed in a position to do their jobs.

    I'm with previous poster ... document, document and document. And don't devalue what you did for the patient based on what some family member said who has no knowledge of the total situation.
  7. by   TazziRN
    If you are questioned about pt care the only thing you will have to back you up is your documentation, not only of what tests were ordered/done, but when and how often you called the doc.
  8. by   Sue Damonas
    Sorry to hear this happened to you. Unfortunately you just never know about people. Like everyone else has said, document. Your manager doesn't sound very supportive. It sounds like you did everything you could.
  9. by   miko014
    Our unit's press ganey scores went down this quarter...we were at the 95th percentile before, and now we're 25th. They have also told us that we have to work at 103-104% productivity since revenues are down. We pointed that correlation out to our boss, but guess what? Our nursing staff is in the 99th percentile. I wonder if it's our testing (17th percentile) or MDs (1st percentile) that affected our score just a tad?

    People complain about lots of things, and I have no idea why. I get pts who really have stuff to complain about but say nothing, while others throw a fit because they have had the same pitcher of ice water for 3 whole hours now! I agree with the above post: DOCUMENT EVERYTHIG YOU DO and you shouldn't have a problem. As far as being ragged on because you're the newbie, I say they should be working harder to keep you. If they keep doing this kind of thing to new people, they're going to start having problems getting people to stay.
  10. by   SaharaOnyxRN
    Quote from am4182
    I am not sure if this is unusal but it seems that in the hospital I work at I have had more patient complaints then I ever had before. The latest was a person who complained of SOB, tingling and a feeling of chest pressure. I checked vital they were ok, (unmonitored floor), I continued to monitor the patient and then called the doctor. The MD had me call the hospitalist. They came to see pt. ordered, chest x-ray, ct, blood gases, more blood work, ekg.
    Everything was negative. However in the morning a second troponin was slightly elevtaed. An EMT with the family began telling them if the nurse, hospital knew what they were doing they would have known it was an MI?? I spoke to the MD later she said the only basis for considering this an MI was the troponin, no other test exam backed this up.
    A complaint was made to the nurse manager stating I did nothing for the pt. Xrays, ct, abg, ekg etc. doesn't strike me as nothing. However the hospital chooses not to back staff rather tell the family that they will need to talk to the nurse. A second complaint was that the pt felt they didn't get adequate care at night, nothing specific, they never named a nurse but the nurse manager decided that since I had cared for her one day I must be the guilty party. I am a relatively new nurse and new to this floor, are these types of problems common at all hospitals? I alway thought I got along well with patients... I'm not sure anymore.
    You know, patient complaints are another aspect of nursing that has me strongly considering leaving nursing. That and corporate greed are really getting to me. Complaints are one thing, but I have heard of patients outright lying before. They don't care who it hurts, they lie when they can't get their way. Even if it means someone may be written up or lose their job over it. But I bet you they don't do it to me without hearing from me. If they have the right to exaggerate or falsely accuse me of something, then I have the right to let them know how I feel about it. That usually kills all unfounded complaints.

    As hard as I work and put my license on the line everyday to take care of some ungrateful patients, I let them know that I don't appreciate being lied on or complained about. Especially when I know I am doing the best I can.

    Sorry if I sound harsh, but this really touches a nerve with me.:angryfire In this litigious society, i don't like playing such games.
  11. by   miko014
    Quote from SaharaOnyxRN
    put my license on the line everyday
    True and absolutely ridiculous! I think there needs to be some major changes to our system so that we can't be sued because someone didn't like the kind of pudding they got for lunch!!! (Okay, I might possibly be exaggerating, but you know what I mean!) What other job is like this (besides the medical field I mean)? True, we are licensed professionals for a reason, but tiny little mistakes or exaggerations on the part of a pt should not lead to the loss of a license. I think the only way a job and/or license should be in jeopardy is if there is actual MALPRACTICE or NEGLIGENCE involved, and giving an aspirin half an hour late should not constitute this! I'm terrified of getting sued, and I doubt I would be able to hold my tongue if I did. We bust our butts for these people, and it just makes me very, very angry when they attack us for stupid stuff. Then, of course, there are the sweet pts who make it all worthwhile, but still!! Oh, well, I guess until they fix the system (and I *am* holding my breath on that one ), we'll just have to document like we love it! Chart EVERYTHING!!!!
  12. by   Kayartea
    Quote from miko014
    Our unit's press ganey scores went down this quarter...we were at the 95th percentile before, and now we're 25th. They have also told us that we have to work at 103-104% productivity since revenues are down. We pointed that correlation out to our boss, but guess what? Our nursing staff is in the 99th percentile. I wonder if it's our testing (17th percentile) or MDs (1st percentile) that affected our score just a tad?

    People complain about lots of things, and I have no idea why. I get pts who really have stuff to complain about but say nothing, while others throw a fit because they have had the same pitcher of ice water for 3 whole hours now! I agree with the above post: DOCUMENT EVERYTHIG YOU DO and you shouldn't have a problem. As far as being ragged on because you're the newbie, I say they should be working harder to keep you. If they keep doing this kind of thing to new people, they're going to start having problems getting people to stay.
    Don't even start me on the Press-Ganey survey. How many patients actually know if they had a good NURSE? Most rate us on our skill as waitresses! And sometimes you're too busy saving their life, or the life of someone down the hall, to fetch that cup of coffee! When is management going to acknowledge that and staff for it? Aides are wonderful, but we rarely have them in CA. With the nurse/pt ratio they've eliminated aides and we do everything. Which sounds ok until you have a pt go bad and everyone else on the call lights. Yes, you should document everything, no matter what it is, but that really doesn't cover those complaints. How do you defend against "waitressy" (not picking on waitresses, but the focus is different than nursing) complaints to someone who is non-medical? And with the HIPPA laws you can't even tell your pt why they had to wait. Someone else needed me more doesn't get it with most people.
  13. by   miko014
    I have told pts before stuff like, "I'm sorry you had to wait. I didn't forget about you, but I was with someone who wasn't doing very well", and usually they are okay with it, even if they aren't happy about it. I think they get that whole, "yikes, what if I wasn't doing well...would I want her to leave me to go give meds to someone else?" thing in their head. I rarely do that, but I have before when pts start going off about how their meds are 10 minutes late. Gimme a BREAK! If we didn't have the "hour-before-and-hour-after" policy, NOTHING would be "on time"!

    As far as Press Ganey goes, just what do they expect us to do, anyway? If nursing is in the 99th percentile, it doesn't seem to me that our floor should be at the 25th just because people don't like some of the docs (we have one group with a pretty poor bedside manner in general, so that's where the 1st percentile came from...our heme/onc guys are great) or they don't like waiting for tests! I mean, what am I supposed to do, take my pt down and run the machines myself?? Give me a BREAK!

    I liked hearing about CA having the 5:1 ratio, but if you don't have techs, I am very sorry for you! I'd rather have 6 or 7 pts and a tech than 5 pts and no tech. I mean, sometimes you get 5 pts and they are fantastic, and you have everything under control. But then there's the other times where it's, let's see, what's a good word for it...impossible? Unsafe, even? That's the thing I hate trying to explain. Yes, I like there to be a solid number, so you know you will not have to take more pts than that, but I still maintain that assignments should be made based on acuity!!! I've had 5 pts before with 2 getting chemo (one was on frequent VS), and 2 people getting blood (of course, more frequent VS), and #5 was very confused and kept getting ut of bed...but she was a little houdini and would slide out of the posey vest and leave it TIED AND ZIPPED on the bed! It was working fine when we had her in a chair in the hall folding washcloths...until her son came in and said he wanted her back in bed. We didn't have any sitters available and we only had 2 techs for 30 pts, so we didn't have anyone on the floor to sit with her either. That's why we wanted her where we could see her. She was so sweet, too. She was afraid of being in the room alone, that's why she kept getting up. She said that she was going to die if she was alone. how can you tell her she has to stay in her room when she's so scared to be in there??? I guess I'm getting a little off topic, but I had to vent a little. :wink2:
  14. by   UKRNinUSA
    I want to know who I complain to about PITA patients and relatives. Who can I report them to? I have fantasies about turning up at their workplace and putting THEM through the ringer, like they do to me.

    fantasy conversation:

    "You really don't want to make me go look at your face sheet. You really wouldn't want that. I'm giving you a warning. Your first verbal warning.............and we all know what happens after that..................YOU DON'T WANT THAT, DO YOU? NOW, QUIT YOUR WHINING AND BE NICE!


    Aaaaaahh, if only.....................

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