Patients on the telephone

  1. 2
    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 talking on the telephone, sees me there, and just ignores me.

    I don't have time to keep coming back and seeing if the patient is "available." It's a hospital, not a spa.

    Have you seen this a lot where you work and what do you do about it?

    I had a guy yell at me recently because I asked him to get off the phone, after waiting 5 minutes, to take oral meds and get a respiratory treatment.
    NurseShelly and pagandeva2000 like this.
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  3. 25 Comments so far...

  4. 4
    I have frequently smiled, whispered "I need you to hang up." and explained that in order to get better or out of here so he can make all the phone calls he wants, he needs to get with the program, blah, blah, blah...

    I have said Loudly with a smile "I need you to take your pills and tx now. Tell them you will call back."

    He's here for a reason, I would assume it is not to make phone calls to keep his company going or his friends up to date.
  5. 3
    Most of the time when my patients have been on the phone and have seen me come into the room, they have said "I gotta go, the nurse is here" and hung up. I'd say about 99 percent of the time. I remember there was one lady that just kept on talking while I stood there with a bunch of stuff in my hand to give her, and I just kinda stood over her staring at her. She kept talking for a while. I kept on standing there until she finally hung up and said something like "sorry about that, my yappy neighbor".

    My take on phone calls is this.... most of these patients have had their lives disrupted already, I try to give them their phone time as much as possible. If I'm coming into the room and see that they are on the phone, IF POSSIBLE, I try to excuse myself and come back a little later, and I'll go see someone else or do something else. But if I've got a bunch of pills in my hand or a treatment or the supplies to do a dressing change.... it's really time to get off the phone.

    Another reason why I'm SO glad that my days as a bedside nurse are, for the most part, over. I'm now working on a children's psychiatric unit, at night. I see the patients for about an hour a day, and they are on their feet knocking on my medication door, not lying in bed!
    Aurora77, Vito Andolini, and wooh like this.
  6. 6
    Heres on of my best stories about pts and phones.

    I was starting an IV on a pre-op pt. I had just gotten the cannula in the vein, great flash back. The phone rang. The pt yanked her hand away and answered the phone! Goom-bye IV! I just sat there, stunned. (hey - it was the end of a 12 hours night shift, I was beyond tired). She yaks away - as I get out fresh supplies. She hangs up. I remove the cannula from the now no-good IV site, put a touniquet back on and start again. She asks "What are you doing?" I calmly say -"you moved before the IV start was complete. You decided the phone call was more important than the IV. Now I have to poke you again".
    This tiime, she stayed still until IV was in!
    Last edit by Pepper The Cat on Apr 11, '09 : Reason: cause drinking wine and typing is hard to do at the same time
  7. 5
    My biggest "peeve" is with Dads (or other family members) answering the phone in the delivery room while the mom is pushing - and frequently as they are crowning! I flat out tell them - turn your phone off NOW!
    A note to all dads out there - this is not something you want thrown up to you in every major argument for the next 20 years - trust me - she will not forget!
  8. 1
    When ever I am in the hospital in any capacity (ER, OR prep, or floor) if I get on my phone it is cuz well I need to contact my mother. HOWEVER if i am on the phone and anyone walks in the room to do anything then I say I will call you back someone jsut came in and hang up
    pagandeva2000 likes this.
  9. 5
    I just go on with what I need to do. If it is giving a med, I hand it to them. If it is a procedure, I tell them that I am going to do "this" and start it. Most of the time, they get off of the phone.
  10. 2
    Well, even though it is frustrating to us, we have to keep in mind... being in the hospital is a HUGE inconvenience to a patient. I mean, yes, it's an inconvenience when we have to "tip-toe" around the phone cord to get vitals, admin meds, etc... but it would suck even more if someone had to wake us up every 4 hours, constantly come in our room and disrupt us, give us no privacy and on top of all of that... being sick at the same time. We are nurses and nurses are "persons educated and trained to care for the sick". Part of our care is respecting patients and their privacy. When I find it difficult to deal with "rude" patients I try to look at it from the other side. What if it were my mom in the hospital (who is 6 hours away) and I didn't have any time off that would allow me to go see her... wouldn't I want her to be able to talk to me whenever I had the chance to talk to her? Would I really want her to be lonely and laying in a hospital bed with nurses who were frustrated at her because someone called to check on her? I would hope that whoever had the privilege of taking care of her would "respectfully" ask my mom to get off of the phone nicely if the procedure absolutely called for it. Otherwise, I'd want them to be happy that she had someone who cared about her enough to be on the phone with her for so long.

    I don't know... just my own thoughts.
    flyingchange and HonestRN like this.
  11. 2
    An "inconvenience"? If they feel well enough to gab on the phones for hours they should not be inconvenienced by being in the hospital at all,IMHO..You should not have to even ask someone to "hold On" or "hang up" And How can you keep running back and forth and see to the needs of all of your patients?
    If I was my mother (and it has been) I got there-no matter what.If it's serious then screw the job...But I did not call her on the phone all day because I knew she would be busy receiving care.
    Remember when there were NO phones at the bedside? We are so selfish and self centered .It's "me ,me ,me " all the time.
    We have a new policy in our LTC-if a residents physically needs assistance using their cellphone we are to provide them with it-forget the meds,treatments,charting and hundreds of other semi-urgent issues....:spin:
    VivaLasViejas and tvccrn like this.
  12. 0
    I think that a great nurse can get the job done (no matter how big or small) whether a patient is on the phone or not... with a smile still on their face. So they're on the phone... who cares. I've never needed someone to get off of the phone to take their meds, stick an iv or whatever...it's all about being assertive and kind at the same time. I've never had to "come back" to a patients room to complete a task because they were on the phone.


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