Customer Service? Maybe on your home planet.

  1. 3
    I usually have a high tolerance for rudeness and inappropriate behavior, but yesterday I reached my limit. This patient is always verbally abusive toward staff, speaking with an acid tongue and tone. He claims that the nurses write down the wrong time in the narc book. "No, she didn't give it to me at that time. Your clocks are all wrong; none of them say the same time."

    The man has nothing nice to say, regardless of the issue.

    Yesterday, I finally grew tired of apologizing for something I didn't do, and called him on his behavior, stating, "You are being rude. Do not speak to me that way."

    He retorts, "I just give what I get. You nurses are always rude to me."

    I reply, "I am never rude to you. In fact, I hardly say anything to you because you have nothing nice to say in return."

    He says, "You were rude to me just now." "If I sense a sarcastic tone, I will be sarcastic right back."

    I say, "I was not sarcastic toward you, and I do not deserve to be spoken to the way that you speak to people."

    It turns into a bit of back and forth, and then I realize, what is the point? In no way do I want to be having an argument with this man, but I am tired of being treated like ****. Some people, sick or not, are just jerks. If I weren't in the professional atmosphere, I would have told this guy off. No joke. I have been around enough people that are verbally abusive to be able to put them in their place. However, I somehow do not defend myself in the professional atmosphere for fear of repercussions from management.

    Now, I have never been written up nor do I want to be, but it was at the point with this patient that I was thinking, Oh well, if I get written up for refusing to be treated poorly, so be it. Then I realize, this guy was probably raised without any manners to begin with, and my "educating" him now is not going to change anything.

    Funny thing is, later he winked and smiled at me. What the heck was that? Now he was being nicer to me? He still had the same verbally demanding and demeaning tone when asking for pain meds though from his PO med nurse.

    Anyhow, I still haven't reached a "happy medium" when it comes to dealing with this issue. I know there has been ongoing debate on AN regarding the "customer service" attitude. Funny, the first thing this patient said when I refused to tolerate the behavior was, "The customer is always right." Wrong.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jul 17, '11 : Reason: formatting for easier reading
    chicookie, wooh, and lindarn like this.

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  2. 57 Comments...

  3. 8
    I work in drug and alcohol rehab- the customer is automatically assumed to be guilty until proven innocent in my line of work, and I am not afraid to put someone in their place if they need it.

    Customer service my behind.
    PinkNBlue, Art_Vandelay, Fiona59, and 5 others like this.
  4. 26
    i find that if you say something totally innocuous ("aren't you just the most precious thing?" in a tone absolutely dripping with sugar, they'll get the point. and what can they complain about? that you said they were precious?
    monkeybug, AngelicDarkness, kbrn2002, and 23 others like this.
  5. 13
    I have had the same thing happen to me...and sometimes if you call them on their "BS" they respect you more...kind of fuuny
    ExtraShotNoWhip, Art_Vandelay, Dondie, and 10 others like this.
  6. 5
    I respond with a completely neutral affect.
    Nothing but trouble will be gained from pointing out their behavior.
    Of course, I will be going into THAT room as little as possible.Too bad they don't realize what goes around, comes around.
    elkpark, Art_Vandelay, nurse0520, and 2 others like this.
  7. 10
    Quote from lrlat
    I have had the same thing happen to me...and sometimes if you call them on their "BS" they respect you more...kind of fuuny
    I can usually head the rude ones off at the pass by killing 'em with kindness.....and when that doesn't work, I simply say, "You know, I'm a person too, and I respond much better to 'please' and 'thank you''". That takes care of about 99% of the rudeness; in fact, this approach often makes people think better of their behavior, and I've received apologies from some of the nastiest jerks around.

    The other 1%.....well, to stay alive in this business, one simply has to learn NOT to take their abuse personally. Let's face it: some people are just assoooos, and we're not going to teach them etiquette lessons at this late date. It doesn't mean we have to stand there and be dumped on, and I for one have always refused to do so; I'd just say something along the lines of, "This doesn't necessarily have to be unpleasant, but if you insist...." and go on about my business of taking care of them as efficiently as possible so I could go on to my other (more appreciative) patients.

    Don't get me wrong; I never ignored such patients' requests or pretended I didn't hear their call bells, but once a patient had established him/herself as utterly impossible to please, I stopped trying. I'd give them all of their required care and make sure they were as comfortable as possible, for sure, but I didn't recover from an emotionally abusive childhood and adolescence to be treated like something these patients scraped off the bottom of their shoes.
  8. 2
    I think you gained his respect by being abrupt right back at him. I don't tolerate the behavior. They can write me up all they want. Usually the pt settles down and that is the end of it.
    Art_Vandelay and Fiona59 like this.
  9. 6
    When did the patient become the customer??
  10. 11
    Quote from NSGstudent12
    When did the patient become the customer??
    When health care became a business.
    AngelicDarkness, PinkNBlue, elkpark, and 8 others like this.
  11. 4
    This is what nurses that have never worked in another profession don't realize.

    In EVERY profession where customer service is promoted, it doesn't matter how nasty, saracastic, etc., a "customer" is, you are expected to keep your cool and remain polite and courteous.

    However, for some reasons, nurses don't think that they owe it to the patients that are rude, to try to turn the situation around, then wonder why they get into trouble with management. It doesn't matter, if you don't need a job...but this isn't going away folks, regardless of what realm of healthcare you choose to work in.

    However, I do blame the facilities for providing zero training of teaching nurses how to handle difficult patients. At the same time, nurses seem to forget that people that enter the hospital don't feel well....that is why they are there. They are not having their best moment. Fear, frustration about your own health condition brings out all sorts of behavior...yet nurses think that patients "owe" them something.

    No patient owes me anything, nor do I expect it.

    However, learning how to deal with difficult people is A is a people skill that has to be learned and fine tuned. I have had family members yell at me, curse at me, etc. However, I have always been able to turn it around.

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