Do you remember the first time you were verbally abused by a patient?
I am a fairly new nurse and the majority of my patients have been very sweet and cooperative. I have had the odd uncooperative or grumpy patient but that is to be expected.
Unfortunately I had a patient today who was extremely condescending towards me - insinuated that I couldn't read, questioned my education, questioned my ethnicity, told me I was not smart, would bark out his demands, pretty much yell out in frustration (with a scary angry look on his face) when I couldn't understand him - he had a trach. I brought a clipboard with some paper in his room to help him communicate his thoughts but he refused to use it - instead he would vocally spell out what he was trying to say (instead of being more efficient and just writing out his thoughts)
I hated going into his room - he would yell out - tell me what to do, etc. He referred to me as little girl.
I have never experienced such verbal abuse. Part of me wonders if I am just being too sensitive - I honestly think I have a pretty thick skin - I have dealt with insults before (I did a stint in emergency psych for my final practicum) and they didn't really affect me. I even had a patient ask if he could do sexual things to me (a sick psych patient).
Part of me wonders if I should be more sensitive to his situation - he must be feeling frustrated because of the communication barrier, he is clearly feeling sick and ill which is why he is in the hospital.
Part of me still feels kind of upset by the situation - trying to rationalize it in my mind.
Sorry for the long post ... just needed to vent.
I handle each situation differently. Sometimes I walk out, sometimes like Leslie above, I validate their concerns saying "I would be upset too if I were you, (or it were my child/mother/whomever) let's talk about the issue and what we can do about it." Sometimes a firm "you need to settle down and not talk to me (or "my nurses") like that...." works. Depends on the circumstances and what they are angry about. Usually I can defuse the situation and get them to refocus. I think most people just want to know that someone cares and someone is listens. Others it's the way they were brought up, or are just angry people in general.
One thing is to not take it personally, especially if they are angry at you.
Last edit by Tweety on Sep 25, '07