Thanks for the article, Altra! Yeah, I was thinking of that, too. For instance, after you admit your patient, get them somewhat stabilized, you call back to the waiting room to allow the family member to come back to do the admission, and update them to lessen their anxiety, etc. They get there, and immediately ask for some little something that you already just did before they got back there (mouth swab, etc). And, then after you update them, and tell them you need to go check the tube system for a medication they need now, they look at you like some great injustice has been done, and you're not doing enough to make their family member comfortable
In all reality, the things they typically ask for just make the family member feel better; the patient is usually obtunded or something lol, but I do understand the psychological thing behind it; all the family has control over or understands sometimes are the little things, like "can we have another washcloth for his forehead?" or "when will he eat again?" when there's a chance he might not be able to breathe again on his own lol, etc). And, I always make my patients comfortable, but obviously, there are priorities. However, when I explain why I need to do something, they usually understand. Most people just don't realize the extent of their family member's illness until we explain it (and even then sometimes, they don't get it) or all that we nurses need to accomplish in a shift. In ICU especially, it can be harder for family members to grasp; they don't seem to worry as much when the patient doesn't have as many lines coming out yet (but I'm thinking, this one has potential to go bad, and explain the process to them), but when they see their family member vented, they freak out more, even if that person is more stable than a non-vented patient, and you will be able to wean them off no problem the next day.