When nurses are mean to patients

  1. Does anyone work with other nurses who are mean to their patients? I work with a nurse who is always friendly and talkative with patients who are alert and lucid, but is just plain men to the confused patients. He screams at them for pulling at IVs and tubes, or for trying to get out of bed. When their families are around, he is sweet as sugar, but after visiting hours he's back to being grouchy. We have taken this to our manager, and he has been talked to , but continues the behavior. We usually try not to assign these kinds of patients to him, but sometimes he still gets them. He has tried to bully the nursing staff at times too, but none of us will take his s**t. The worst part is that he gets letters and compliments from his patients and their families because he knows how to play the game. He was suspended once, but that did little good. I know that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and we often assign patients according to a staff members abilities. Several of us have been documenting his behavior for the last two weeks to take it ti our manager again. He does not act like this when she is around. Anyone else deal with someone like this?
    Last edit by RNinICU on May 27, '02
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   mattsmom81
    Wow...I worked with a guy just like this...wonder if it's the same one?

    He was fired due to a complaint from a family member on top of staff documentation to the boss. He would slap their hands and yell...innapropriately and angrily...at patients and it made me sick.

    I think he had problems...very much a control freak and obsessive compulsive. Scary, but they're out there.
  4. by   prn nurse
    I'll tell you what to do with your documentation. Send it to the Board of Nursing. This nurse needs to have his license revoked. And I'll tell you why. An ill patient is extremely vulnerable to all kinds of abuse. And if a nurse abuses patients in the hospital envoirment, what do you think he is capable of in a home nursing situation when there is no one there but the nurse and the patient? Many sick people have been victimized by the likes of characters like this who should never have received a license to begin with. A nursing license is not a license to prey on the sick and vulnerable. Nurses have stolen sick patients $$, checkbooks, narcotics, furs, etc. They have beat them, medicated them into unresponsiveness, starved and tortured them.
    To complain to the supervisor and have him fired is of no use. That is akin to the bishop firing the pedophile priest....the abuser simply moves on to a new victim pool.
    Nursing is a profession of honor and trust. Fellow nurses have a duty to inform the Board when one of their own is not to be trusted around the sick and helpless for fear he'll take advantage of them. You will sleep better and make yourselves, your families, and co-workers proud to know you refused to "look the other way." We are not a "gang"
    whose "Code of Honor" includes silence to protect a sleazy, victimizing nurse.
  5. by   caroladybelle
    The nurse that precepted me on my first job out of Nursing school was one mean motorscooter of a nurse. She would very mean to the dementia patients - talking about throwing them out the window if they didn't quiet down. One day, she was evil to an oriented but sedated elderly lady - found out later that she was related to a senator - the nurse disappeared from staffing - needed to take some unexpected time off. Did she fall or was she pushed (fired or quit), I don't know.

    On the lighter side, she used to place me on the "Dirty" side (infectious disease) and she would take the "Clean" side because it was easier (less meds, fewer IVs, fewer diabetics, no VRE/MRSA, no isolations, no HIV/TB). I learned a great deal, learned isolation technique, good time management skills, how to deal difficult co-workers, and learned to love HIV patients and the art of dealing w/infectious disease. I went through heck and learned that I could handle it.

    I did do a dance of sheer joy though when the witch was gone!!!
  6. by   fedupnurse
    Unfortunately I think we can all relay stories of mean colleagues. What sacres me is the people who turn on a dime! One second they are nice and the next WATCH OUT!!! They are coming into the nurses station on their broomsticks!
    I agree with prn nurse. We all have a bad day, but when it is a pattern the Board should be notified. PRN is right, it is akin to the Clergy situation. Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch I was raised Catholic!!! They will get canned and go victimize elsewhere. And to think, there are people out there who want to be nurses and are getting the run around from nursing schools!!!!
    Last edit by fedupnurse on May 27, '02
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I worked with someone like this, too. She used to do a STERNAL RUB ON LABOR PATIENTS (yes coherent and Ox3 people!), who were involuntarily pushing in the transistion stages!!!! We reported this (and numerous other off-the-wall and nasty behaviors) and kept careful documentation. Then, these were submitted to our (thankfully, very PROactive manager) It was all she needed to do the right thing.... And LO! and behold! This evil so-called "nurse" is finally GONE (praise be)!

    If your manager is unable/unwilling to take any real action, I agree with the poster above. Report this to the State Board of Nursing.....do NOT LET IT GO! You are right to be upset! This sort of nurse is a disgrace to our profession, and worse, a danger to the people we are charged with caring for.
  8. by   mattsmom81
    Sorry...forgot to include the most important thing...of course we reported him to the Texas BON. And we found out it was not the first time.

    We have a duty as professionals to protect our patients from unscrupulous, abusive, or unsafe nurses.

    Now...if we could get doctors to police their ranks better....I do think nurses do a much better job here than docs.
  9. by   night owl
    Heck, I'd record it, then you have all the proof you need!
  10. by   prn nurse
    I would personally report it to the board. I would include that it was my understanding that he had been reported previously. There are cases that fall through the cracks. The board changes every couple of years. I would ask the board how this nurse continues to practice and victimize the innocent, the ill, the helpless? You only have to write four sentences. Save copies. A copy to the governors' office is the next move after the board. I personally would assume responsibility to get this molester/abuser out of nursing. If he is this bad now, he will get worse. There are few people who are as vulnerable as the ill elderly. We are charged with a public trust of responsibility, caring and compassion, accountability, trust and honor. He does not belong.
  11. by   SharonH, RN
    Yep, I used to work with a woman who did this. When there was a patient who was confused or who would yell out, she would tell them to "Shut up!" all the time. Or if there was a patient she didn't like, she didn't make any bones about letting them know it. More than once, she told me that she didn't like a certain patient because they were just "white trash". Of course she only acted this way against people she perceived as powerless against her or whom people wouldn't be likely to believe anyway(druggies, elderly, homeless, poor people). And yes, she got away with it. She was actually allowed to retire from her job. Good riddance.
  12. by   RNinICU
    I have no intention of letting him get away with this behavior. Several of us are keeping detailed documentation, and we plan on taking it to our manager this week. He has had verbal and written warning, as well as suspension. The next step is termination. We also plan on reporting him to the BON, but we are not sure what they will do. He has never physically abused a patient, the verbal abuse is bad enough. But he also has documentation in the form of thank you letters and cards from families about how wonderful he is. I don't know if that will carry any weight with the board or not. He has also gotten away with things in the past by claiming we are out to get him because he is a man in nursing, and we resent him for that. It sometimes comes down to our word against his. That is ridiculous. Almost half of our staff is male, and most of them are great. He has been in our unit for eight years, and this behavior has been going on for about three years now. Several of us have suggested he needs counseling or perhaps he has a medical problem, but he gets very defensive when we bring this up. We don't really want to drive him out of nursing, we think he needs help since this is achange in his behavior. Maybe this will force him to seek help. I hope so.
  13. by   Teshiee
    Report his arse! I know I don't enjoy taking care of confused patients but being mean to them is not right. His day will come when he gets old and senile what he done will be return 10 fold. I don't know why people like that waste nursing school space when they had no intention being a decent nurse.
  14. by   Zee_RN
    Tape recorder in your pocket? Just an idea...

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