People Are Big Babies Anymore

  1. ...or is it me? Maybe I'm the big baby instead. I'll explain...
    I've noticed in the past five years out of the 20 that I've been an RN, that the public is more and more difficult to deal with. I have found that nowadays, there are more people in denial, more people who do not accept the facts of a situation and attempt to second guess us all the time without any kind of knowledge base in the field. I get disrespected, treated like a potential criminal and with suspicion all of the time, rudeness and threats and frankly, I am sick to death of it. Mind you, I am very nice and cordial to my patients and families, never had a complaint lodged at all against me or my care in all the years I've done this (luckily), but anymore, that doesn't seem to matter at all. A few days ago I had to deal with two very difficult families again, and it just drains the life out of me. Their demands alot of the times are unreasonable, the long conversations trying to appease them in a nice way go unheeded (after spending a long time and neglecting my other duties to deal with their anger and frustration and try to make them feel better), the threats to sue anger me (although that didn't happen this last time, that threat is always in the air), and I keep wondering why on earth am I allowing myself to be abused in this way.
    Then I will calm down a bit and try to be empathetic towards them. Then in a way, I can understand the suspicions. Just turn on the TV and see all the news about medical mistakes and how many people have died from them (although I personally am suspicious of that number). How healthcare has deteriorated. The public does not trust us anymore, and when I try to look at it from their point of view, then I can see why. I guess I would be the same way.
    But at the same time, I experience the disrespect and rudeness so many times, and I'm just so tired of being treated this way. I feel too this part of it is just a sign of the times...people in general, not just in health care, are rude and disrespectful nowadays. Plain bad manners and selfishness (at least in my opinion) are epidemic in our society. Alot of the times they do not look at their loved ones best interest, they are only interested in easing their own pain. Such as when you have a terminally ill or and elderly, chronically ill patient that has suffered through so many medical procedures, but the family wants everything done only to ease or prevent their own pain, not at all looking at the best interest of their loved one. Death is not an option, it is a failure, and in my world nobody is going to die on me and cause me pain. Even though everyone must die at some time. They will interrupt care and cause a scene and want their own needs met, not even thinking that they are interrupting their own family members care and the care of others by acting this way, taking up our time to calm them down and neglecting patient care to ease their pain and discontent.
    I remember many years ago, when we were trusted and looked up to, and oh were those the good ole' days. Not that nobody at all should question us, I don't mean it that way. But there was trust in us, in general. If there were questions, people were very respectful, there was more time to explain and do proper teaching to them, and they were satisfied most of the time after we talked with them. People got for the most part good care. There weren't the mistakes that I see today. I see such a deterioration in care nowadays, nurses and docs are all pushed to their limit so much so that it is no wonder the quality has declined. You can be a great nurse but under these conditions, you can be looked at like in incompentent idiot by the public because you didn't get things to them on time, or be there as much as they want you to be. You can have a patient that has some crumbs in their sheets or the leg is uncovered, and when the families come in, they will go ballistic thinking their loved one was neglected and not taken care of properly. Never mind that you had a code just down the hall; never mind you had an emergency CT scan you had to accompany the patient to. Never mind that you were trying to console a family when their loved one passed away. Oh no, those crumbs on the sheets or that uncovered leg means you are an awful nurse and neglectful, and there will be h*ll to pay for this one. I'm gonna make a big scene so they won't do this again. Absolutely no consideration in what has been going on and other priorities. Then when I think about it a little more, then I think of how the families must feel so out of control when they can't trust their own health care providers and must do whatever they can, say whatever they can, within their own knowledge base,to protect their ill loved ones. They will focus on such little things and use that as a scale of judgement on good care and terrible care, and cannot focus or empathize with your bad shift, because they do not understand our roles as nurses, don't understand our culture in the hospital and how things are run, and how we must prioritize our care.
    So you see, I go back on forth on this...I get so tired of being treated like crap, yet I can see why. I guess maybe I am too sensitive or I need to learn to deal with this better and not take it so personally. As much as I try taking my time and talking with my patients and families, I can't always do the best, most thorough job with it because of other pressing issues; I cannot neglect my other patients but alot of the times I am distracted so much by this that I cannot watch them like I should and get behind on my work; I sometimes think how a potential bad outcome or a patient could be deteriorating quickly while I am busy dealing with the angry "customers".
    What triggered my little vent here? Dealing with a patient's son who sobbed and cried and acted like a child because Dad had some hematuria. He was well aware that Dad has a poor heart (EF 15%), advanced COPD, but not a concern at all about that, we weren't able to stop the bleeding soon enough and that means we are bad, bad, bad. Mind you, this patient's hemoglobin didn't drop, was on a Murphy drip to ease it, urology consult involved, it was slowly improving but was taking longer than I had expected; docs were aware of the situation and he was being treated for it. We were dealing with the problem and it would be solved, no matter how much we talked with him, this didn't even matter at all. It must be stopped and stopped NOW, not in an hour or several hours later (McDonalds Mentality). Dealing with a 50 year old crying and sobbing man saying "I can't stand to see Dad in pain again" was pathetic.Dad was having ZERO OUT OF TEN pain. Nada. None. I know that sounds cold hearted, but son just would NOT see anything else. We almost had to put his dad on a vent, and he still isn't out of the woods with that yet.Son did not understand that hematuria usually can be stopped, that this problem was minor compared to his other problems (not that hematuria like that is minor, but once again, we were treating it, and my top focus was keeping this man off the vent and keeping his hemodynamically stable) , but not much we can do to stop advanced heart disease and end stage COPD that will really kill him. And yes, this was explained to him several times. He threw a complete fit, and I had just had it by then after being yelled at on the phone by another family member because the doctor didn't talk to them at the exact time they wanted them to.
    I don't have any answers...wish I did. Thanks for reading and letting me vent. I feel a bit better now...until the next situation, LOL!
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  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   katy_kenemy
    i agree that people are big babies. if i behaved the way many (most?) people do at the hospital these days, my mother would come back from the grave and smack me across the face. ---the other day, a pt had a fit because his nurse was keeping track of his output on a critical care unit, and made the mistake of complaining about her to me. he thought it was her little arbitrary idea!!! (roll eyes). (sigh)--- i remind myself these people are, after all, sick and if i worked anywhere else i would still have to put up with it, but from people with less of an excuse to be big baby brats.
  4. by   USA987
    I understand what you are going through. And I've experienced those same mixed emotions.

    Just the other day, I had a pt. in L&D. Fetal heart rate down into the 60;s and not coming back up. I'm flipping her on her side, putting on 02, giving fluid bolus, shutting off the Pitocin, yelling out for someone to page the MD....

    ...The pt. looks at me and asks if I could go get her husband a cup of coffee!!!!!!
  5. by   grimmy
    [font=book antiqua]i can definitely empathize with you. it's hard to remember that these are usually needy people in a strange environment where most have little to no knowledge, or have a little bit of information that is totally misleading. we've all met someone who has read everything on the internet and considers themselves an 'expert.' forget that medical science is not an exact science, and the human body is a highly individual and fragile thing. i also believe that folks act like this because our culture does not adequately prepare us for our deaths. people think they need to fight tooth-and-nail for every single living moment, acting quite selfishly, and not looking at their loved-one's best interests.
    when i was in nursing school doing my preceptorship, i had an education in families. long story short: 40 yo man knocked to concrete head-first off a horse. brain-dead, on vent, divorced, 18 year old daughter, and live-in girlfriend. the daughter was sure he was squeezing her hand. we explained the difference between following commands, and instinctive gestures. it took more than 10 days for the family to decide that he was never going to wake up, despite numerous family discussions with nurse, social workers, doctors, etc. meanwhile, the daughter would scream at us when we asked her to leave so that we could clean him up and such. not just any screaming, but cursing, calling us names, accusations of abuse, etc. it was hateful.
    similar situation with nicu baby with many developmental problems, needed peg tube, and mom was overheard saying to infant prior to surgery: "you need to survive this so you can grow up to be a doctor and hurt them just like they're hurting you!"
    granted, these folks are hurting in their own way, communicating it inappropriately. this is where other members of the health-care team have to step in and do some family counseling. not always possible, but get yourself outta there once in a while. i truly believe there are lots of people out there with mental health problems not getting the help they desperately need. let's not even talk about the social pressures of the sandwich generation, caring for their own young children and aging parents, too.
    give yourself a break. we're all caring for way too many (entire families, patients, each other, our own families, etc. etc.) don't forget that you need to come first.
  6. by   allamericangirl
    "And yes, this was explained to him several times. He threw a complete fit, and I had just had it by then after being yelled at on the phone by another family member because the doctor didn't talk to them at the exact time they wanted them to."

    Years ago you weren't dealing with 50 year old business men who snort coke to keep them raging through the business world at lightening speeds, take Viagra to stud their 20 year old girl friends, or 50 year olds with fried brains from LSD, Coke, and everything else that they have taken socially since their freshman year in college.

    The world is a different place and people are hard and have been pushed around and feel that they have to push others around to get the things that they want and need. Your world is inside the hospital where the environment has been more controlled than the outside business world. There, anything and everything goes, and it is do whatever it takes to get what you want. There are still some ethics left in health care, but not many, if any at all in the regular business world.

    The only thing that you can really do is try to keep your cool and lead by example, and think about the good experiences that you have when dealing with people today, it doesn't matter what line of work you are in, the public is abusive.
    Last edit by allamericangirl on Mar 19, '05
  7. by   ProfRN4
    Quote from grimmy
    [font=book antiqua]forget that medical science is not an exact science, and the human body is a highly individual and fragile thing. i also believe that folks act like this because our culture does not adequately prepare us for our deaths. people think they need to fight tooth-and-nail for every single living moment, acting quite selfishly, and not looking at their loved-one's best interests.
    very good post, and your 2 stories were very sad (that this is what people become, and how they view us).

    but i think this is one of the problems: many think that human beings are eternal. we all have to die!!! it is a sad reality, and we, as nurses, know this better than anyone else. i don't believe that i have become callous, but realistic. i thought i would never get over the loss of my brother. it was 10 yrs ago, ( i was 20), and yes, my life went on. so did my parents. i'm not saying i wouldn't have fought to keep him alive (hopefully we would have made a rational decision, but there was no decision to make ). but people insist on keeping family members alive at any cost!! and this results in no quality of life for all involved.

    and people still cannot accept the fact that not everything is curable. especially things that are brought on by noncompliance or less than acceptable life-styles (so sorry i can't cure your cigarette-induced lung cancer). no i don't live an exemplary life style (far from it), but i'll be damned if i blame my doctor or nurse for a disease i contributed to by my lifestyle :angryfire ).
  8. by   mattsmom81
    I believe the 'customer service' kick that facilities are into today is the enabler that allows the disrespect and bad behavior we witness today.
  9. by   llg
    Quote from mattsmom81
    I believe the 'customer service' kick that facilities are into today is the enabler that allows the disrespect and bad behavior we witness today.
    I agree totally. I think there is a lot of enabling behavior going on -- and it's not just the hospitals. Society in general does not seem willing to enforce any type of standards of behavior or of performance.

    llg
  10. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from mattsmom81
    I believe the 'customer service' kick that facilities are into today is the enabler that allows the disrespect and bad behavior we witness today.
    My thoughts exactly!!
  11. by   dbsn00
    [QUOTE=DidiRN]
    But at the same time, I experience the disrespect and rudeness so many times, and I'm just so tired of being treated this way. I feel too this part of it is just a sign of the times...people in general, not just in health care, are rude and disrespectful nowadays. Plain bad manners and selfishness (at least in my opinion) are epidemic in our society. Alot of the times they do not look at their loved ones best interest, they are only interested in easing their own pain. Such as when you have a terminally ill or and elderly, chronically ill patient that has suffered through so many medical procedures, but the family wants everything done only to ease or prevent their own pain, not at all looking at the best interest of their loved one. Death is not an option, it is a failure, and in my world nobody is going to die on me and cause me pain. Even though everyone must die at some time. They will interrupt care and cause a scene and want their own needs met, not even thinking that they are interrupting their own family members care and the care of others by acting this way, taking up our time to calm them down and neglecting patient care to ease their pain and discontent.
    QUOTE]
    This combined with the "customer service" trend is one of my pet peeves...I love bedside nursing but hate the suspicion, disrespect & lack of common sense from the family members that is directed towards nurses.
  12. by   sunshines66
    I felt the same about the customer service thing. One pt I had a month ago did not get his ice chips fast enough and had a fit. I recieved a written warning about how I treat patients. I am supose to act more subservant to them. Yes that is a direct quote and was put on my last eval. I am a critical care nurse who some times is slow to respond to the chant for ice. (slow is more than 3 mins by the way.) I find myself being unable to handle some of the extreme neediness of some pts and families. It is hard to continue to ignore my other pt and sometimes my charting to listen to a family ask the same questions 3-5 times in one 30 min session. We have restricted visiting 15 mins 4x day and the families will continue their questions after that for another 20-30 minutes. Or how about the pt who rates their pain 0/10 when you ask 1hr,30 min and 5 mins before visitors then complains of 10/10 when they arrive and state that the pain has been horrible forever......UGH!

    I feel so frustrated sometimes, other times I remember they are scared worried overtired.....

    WHen will we got some respect from our employers?
  13. by   jnette
    Quote from sunshines66

    WHen will we got some respect from our employers?
    BINGO !!!!!!!

    Agree so totally with the "customer service" crap mentioned above.

    While it is all well and good to be kind, patient, respectful, professional caring... to patients and famlies.. and so it SHOULD be.. the same should ALSO be expected of THEM in return.

    When the customer service thing came about, suddenly nurses became mere store clerks..."would you care to try a size eight in that shoe, ma'am?"
    Or waitresses.. janitors... roomservice..............you name it.

    This is how the much of the public is now being led to view those in the health profession. How two little words can do so much damage..
    It's all about SERVICE.. forget about health, knowlege, profession.

    And yes..when our employers begin showing US some respect, it would certainly go far in giving us what WE need to addresse these demanding patients/families "needs" and "issues". :stone
    Last edit by jnette on Mar 19, '05
  14. by   hypnotic_nurse
    People are less trusting and feel more powerless...this seems to have started in the 60s, with "don't trust anyone over 30" and Nixon and the Vietnam war...and it's only getting worse.

    Our society changes very quickly, which makes people anxious, but also adds to the desire for instant gratification that is pushed at us from every angle.

    Then add in all the people who have fried their brains with illegal substances, or whose parents fried their brains for them while they were in utero...

    Everyone is angry all the time. I'm pretty laid back, but I find I get angry easier these days as well...I have to make a conscious effort to allow it to roll off me.

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