Patient's Demanding Family *Vent*

  1. I came on shift yesterday afternoon, got my paperwork together, and was heading down my assigned hall when an RN stopped me and asked me to check on a patient on the other wing. When I get there, of course, it's a MRSA isolation room. I start with the mask and gown and patient's wife yells at me that I'm not moving fast enough. I asked what the problem was.... problem was there was air in his IV and it was beeping. According to her, it has been beeping for half an hour. I'm sure that wasn't the case, but I told her I would let her nurse know and have the nurse come and fix it. She got all huffy and demanded that I fix it RIGHT NOW and asked for my name. I explained that I could not fix the IV as I am not permitted to touch them and that the nurse would be in to fix it. Got stopped in the hall by another relative who demanded I fix the IV. Again I explained that this is not in the nursing assistant's scope of practice and I could not touch it, and I'd let the nurse know. As I was walking away, I heard her saying "This hospital does nothing but pass the jobs off to someone else, and he's not getting appropriate care."

    I found this patient's nurse and told her what was going on. Then I found out that the nursing assistant on daylight was in there at least 6 times to change his bed and do other appropriate nursing assistant care.

    I am irked by the comments made to my back because I know that isn't the case. I know my coworkers, and they're not the type to not take care of their patients. My question is should I have been a bit more reinforcing with the explaination that I cannot touch an IV? With my luck, I'll get stuck on this wing tonight and have to deal with this family. I just have a feeling that these are the type of people who are going to complain with a fistfull of hundreds..... But I also don't want to see my coworkers get called on the carpet for this cause they did nothing wrong.
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  2. 30 Comments

  3. by   SuesquatchRN
    There's nothing you can do about an idiot family. One of the things I hated about med/surg was the family standing guard, as if our main concern was to hurt their relative.

    Just reiterate that you can't legally do it but will get someone who can.

    And don't sweat it. Everyone know, by now, what that family is about.
  4. by   RN1989
    Part of the problem is that the general public has no idea what each health care giver can and cannot do. They think that anyone wearing scrubs or a uniform has the same authority and duties as the next one. Maybe we need to have more people explain to EACH and EVERY person what their job entails. I always try to go over what my job is the first time that I am with a pt. I don't do it on subsequent days unless they seem to forget. But so often we all get in a hurry and don't bother to truly explain what each of us is there to do. Maybe we just need to really get in their faces and let them know what we do (and what we can't do).
  5. by   TazziRN
    Don't worry about it. You will not be able to please all of the people all of the time. Keep reiterating that this is beyond your scope of practice and that your cert will be in jeopardy if you do anything with the IV.

    Also realize that the family is probably pretty nice outside of the hospital. They're stressed out right now and maybe scared with all the hoopla in the news about MRSA. I'm not excusing them, this is inexcusable behavior, but it may be understandable.
  6. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from TazziRN
    Also realize that the family is probably pretty nice outside of the hospital. They're stressed out right now and maybe scared with all the hoopla in the news about MRSA. I'm not excusing them, this is inexcusable behavior, but it may be understandable.
    My mother was in the hospital for 2 months, being treated for end stage liver disease. While my father and I were very emotional about my mom, we always respected the staff. We never made unreasonable demands, and we certainly never screamed at employees or tried to coerce them into doing something immediately. By the way, I was not yet a nurse back in these days, so I had no idea of their daily stressors and demands.

    There's absolutely no excuse for family members to behave in an abusive manner.
  7. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from thecommuter
    my mother was in the hospital for 2 months, being treated for end stage liver disease. while my father and i were very emotional about my mom, we always respected the staff. we never made unreasonable demands, and we certainly never screamed at employees or tried to coerce them into doing something immediately. by the way, i was not yet a nurse back in these days, so i had no idea of their daily stressors and demands.

    there's absolutely no excuse for family members to behave in an abusive manner.
    [font="comic sans ms"]i agree with you. of course the family is emotional about their loved one's illness, but that's no excuse for being rude and abusive to the staff.

    all i can say to the op is that probably everyone who works there is by now well aware of the family's behavior. except, possibly managememnt. but that's another thread and another vent . . . .
  8. by   classicdame
    you acted appropriately. Congratulations for performing well under fire!
  9. by   Ms Kylee
    Quote from classicdame
    you acted appropriately. Congratulations for performing well under fire!

    Surprisingly, I am getting better at this... maybe all I needed was a few months of working under my belt? I am still a novice at this (Never been a nursing assistant before, no CNA yet, just finished Level I of nursing program), and I'm still kind of afraid that I'm going to offend people.
  10. by   fultzymom
    ]There are always people who will never be happy no matter what you do for their loved one. You just have to provide the best care possible and no matter what they say about your care, know that you are giving good care. Sometimes easier said than done, I known. Some people are just naturally hateful.
  11. by   ERnewbieRN
    i had a problem similar to this recently... i work in a busy ER and usually have 5-6 patients at a time. this night was no exception, and i had 2 critical patients at once, and of course we were shortstaffed so i had no one to really help me. one of the critical patients, in addition to all the medical problems going on, was also withdrawing from alcohol. i had to have been in that room at least every 10 minutes the entire 5 hours he was down in the ER. i later found out from another nurse that his wife was complaining that i didn't get to his beeping IV pump fast enough... it was beeping to say the IV was finished... and at another hospital they've been to "the nurses were always running in to turn off the alarms! why couldn't we do that here?" the other nurse kindly informed the woman that this is an emergency room, and a pump alarm going off for 2 minutes is not an emergency.

    sometimes you have to realize that there are other things going on in people's lives that make them react inappropriately to small things, like beeping IV pumps. in this woman's case, it was her denial that her husband was an alcoholic, and she seemed to be lashing out at the nurses and doctors because she felt she had no control over the situation. it's still entirely inappropriate behavior, but at least it makes you realize you did all you could to take the best possible care of your patients and it's not necessarily your fault that the family is unhappy with their loved one's care
  12. by   sissiesmama
    Kylee45 - Congrats to you for keeping your cool in that type of situation!! Tazzi hit the nail on the head with her posting. And, been there, done that. My father hd a MI 1 1/2 year ago and I have been in the hospital a lot recently with cardiac symptoms, and the situation would have to be dire befoe I would act like that to staff that would be taking care of my family while he was alone at night, or me in the hospital when I sleep.

    Plese don't think that I would think someone would actually perform "pillow therapy", so to speak, but I always as a pt or family try to be polite when I get my point across.

    And as far as being a nurse, in my history of 16 years, that is one thing that drives me up the wall!!!! I understand that tensions run high in some situations like that, especially in the ER, where I have most of my experience, but there is a polite way to handle family members verbalizing their needs or concerns. Maybe they need to put that into the hosp. pt. handbook(joking!) so they have some guidelines on family member etiquitte(sp?). I love my patients, but the other makes me want to scream!

    You did great, and I commend you for having more patience than me most of the time! Good luck with them and the others that act like that!!

    Anne RNC:spin::blushkiss
  13. by   leslie :-D
    kylee, it sounds like you did just fine.
    you explained your limitations, reassured them, and the rest is on them.

    i do find it interesting, however, what some consider "abuse".
    a family member being anxious about a beeping alarm, is not the same as being called and treated like a worthless, piece of crap.
    it really is important to differentiate between the two.
    my .02...keep the change.

    leslie
  14. by   Sue Damonas
    People can certainly be rude!! I took care of my mother for a number of years and had her in the hospital a lot and was very respectful and undemanding. I kept on top of things with my mother but was not a pita about it. Mom ended up being a frequent flyer and the staff always liked seeing the 2 of us.

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