Patients on the telephone - page 3

by firstyearstudent

1,937 Views | 25 Comments

Our hospital is, in my opinion, overly focussed on "customer service." I don't know how many times I have gone into the patient's room to give drugs, do a procedure, do an assessment, draw a lab, whatever, and the pt. is just... Read More


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    I will sometimes try to tell them, "Please, don't get off the phone for me" -- and I proceed to give them their meds or whatever while they're on the phone. Sometimes that works. Most seem to WANT to get off the phone when I come in . . . and then they proceed with their usual 20 questions, or crazy requests, or what have you.
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    I stand there and count to ten silently. If they don't make some indication that they want me to proceed, or say "hold on a minute" then I leave and go back when I get to it, usually in 15 minutes or so.

    It's more likely that someone will come out of the room and say the patient is ready for me now. I say something along the lines of "OK, I'll finish what I've got going now, and be right in." What I'm doing at the moment can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes, but remember that as a nurse you are in charge of prioritization.

    Only twice have I felt the need to document every time I went into the patient's room, and it served me well. If I'm going in every 5-10 minutes, and documenting each interaction, the patient may not be getting what they asked for, but they are certainly not being neglected. I'll even document that I told the patient they need to give me time between calls to complete the requested task...

    This post makes me sound like a real dog's behind, but I'll trip over myself to help someone in need. I've got to maintain boundaries so I can provide care to everyone, and not just those demanding it. I really think new nurses need to learn the coping skills that develop through the years, but not from nurses that abuse their power. Don't sit around just to teach someone a lesson, but if you really have another sick person to tend to don't be ashamed or embarassed about putting them first.
    Cherish likes this.
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    Quote from canoehead
    I stand there and count to ten silently. If they don't make some indication that they want me to proceed, or say "hold on a minute" then I leave and go back when I get to it, usually in 15 minutes or so.

    It's more likely that someone will come out of the room and say the patient is ready for me now. I say something along the lines of "OK, I'll finish what I've got going now, and be right in." What I'm doing at the moment can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes, but remember that as a nurse you are in charge of prioritization.

    Only twice have I felt the need to document every time I went into the patient's room, and it served me well. If I'm going in every 5-10 minutes, and documenting each interaction, the patient may not be getting what they asked for, but they are certainly not being neglected. I'll even document that I told the patient they need to give me time between calls to complete the requested task...

    This post makes me sound like a real dog's behind, but I'll trip over myself to help someone in need. I've got to maintain boundaries so I can provide care to everyone, and not just those demanding it. I really think new nurses need to learn the coping skills that develop through the years, but not from nurses that abuse their power. Don't sit around just to teach someone a lesson, but if you really have another sick person to tend to don't be ashamed or embarassed about putting them first.

    Exactly. For every pt. on a phone, there is someone else down the hall just wishing to themselves you would come and help them out. Nothing wrong with going to the more receptive people first. If you dont have the time for me, I dont need to have the time for you either. Its that simple.

    I used to say something to the lazy RNs when I was a CNA that might apply here. When I ran into one of those RNs who wanted to monopolize my time, throw everything and anything on me they possibley could, I always gave them the same warning:

    "I'm so bussy, if I hit the ground running and skip my lunch break, I'll get about 80% of the work I should, in an ideal world, be getting done. I can be very aware and in control of where the 20% I dont get done lands. Dont thing for a second I wont choose to have that entire 20% land on you if I desire to."

    Same thing with the pt. who doesnt want the tx. Its not like I dont have other things to do, and with more receptive pt's. If what you want is to be left alone, you will get what you want.

    Of course, I will document very well why it is you got what you got, and how it was your choice to get what you get.
    Aurora77 likes this.
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    Many times when i come on shift my patients are on the phone. I usually do quick hi while doing kinda drive by assessment ~ if they are laughing on phone with family they are not dying or groaning with pain. So i go check on my other patients and come back. If they need something they usually will make gesture for me to stay and get off phone.
    Part of my reasoning for this was when my mother was in the hospital, she was on phone all the time with family out of state. It lifted her spirits talking on phone with family.
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    Quote from Virgo_RN

    What irritates me more are those phone calls that get forwarded to my phone from the front desk from family members while I am in the middle of patient care, asking me why their loved one is not answering the phone.
    Oh, don't even get me started on phones---last time I looked, my name badge said "RN Charge Nurse", not "Receptionist". :angryfire:angryfire:angryfire

    Like most LTCs, all the office folks at mine make a beeline for the exit at 1700, and they don't work weekends. That's fine, but where is it written that the NURSE has to field all these stupid phone calls? I don't mind doctors' calls, of course, and I will drop everything willingly to talk to someone with a desperately ill or dying family member. But why can't whoever is sitting at the nurse's station or close to the hall phone handle the non-essential calls? Especially when I'm up to my eyeballs in someone's Stage IV decub and the caller only wants to check up on a resident for the 4th time this shift, or to have staff go turn a resident's cell phone on and stand there for Lord knows how long while they talk because they can't work the damned thing.

    I don't have time to play secretary---if I wanted to spend my days saying things like "Good afternoon, you've reached the Shady Rest Nursing, Rehabilitation and Last Stop Before Death Center, this is Marla, how can I help you?" I'd have gone to business school. Besides, I'm eternally flummoxed by multi-line phones......I'm forever dropping calls, transferring them to the wrong part of the building etc., and I resent having to stop in the middle of more important work to shuttle the cordless up and down the hall twenty times a night.

    Ahhhhhhhhhh...........that feels better. Thanks to the OP for bringing up the subject!
    ktwlpn likes this.
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    Quote from dream'n
    While I guess I can understand that being ill and in a hospital could be an 'inconvience' (odd word, since it's THEIR health afterall) to the patient and/or their families, it is my duty to provide the best nursing care that is needed for them AND all of my other patients to heal. Sorry if I sound mean, but my nursing priorities are more important than their personal telephone call. I would be polite, but really I do not have time to wait for personal phone calls to end to do my job. I think very logically about my time, the time I spend waiting for someone to finish a call is time I will not have to perform other duties. I am responsible for other patient's nursing care and also for my own time management. Personally, I consider it VERY rude for someone to continue a personal phone care when a nurse/tech/Dr. is their to provide them treatment. But I also find it rude for people to continue cell phone chit-chat at the bank teller, at a cashier, etc.
    I totally agree with you. If a patient is DNR, everything changes. I do everything at their convenience and their families, but if a patient is being treated medically I want to be as efficient as I can and I should have their cooperation. It's a hospital!!!!

    Some people are just oblivious about this phone thing and/or how pressed staff is for time. I don't want to be rude, but come on. Just the other day I had a patient with pain of 10/10 with probable attack of pancreatitis. The doc and I run around like we're on amphetamines to get his pain under control and get him stat x-rays, etc., then while transport and I are waiting at the door to take him down he continues to talk on the phone for 2 or 3 minutes giving his grandson directions on how to get to the hospital to visit him! We're all there jumping up and down trying to get his attention (he is so intentionally ignoring us). His wife is yelling "get off the phone, honey." His daughter is saying, "Dad, give me the phone. I will give him the directions." If it was the hospital phone I would have been tempted to take it out of his hand but it was his cell phone.


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