Do you stand up for yourself to patients?

  1. I am just shocked with a conversation I had with a co-worker. I had a pt family member that was being rude and I asked the family member to stop talking to me that way (nicely). I was relaying the story and she said 'oh you can't do that " I said huh? I have a right to not be verbally abused and she said "no .......I don't think you do as a nurse, we have to meet pts and their families where they are"

    Really? I don't think that is true. I am one to set boundaries, just like I did with this family member and usually it turns out really well and we have workable pt/nurse relationship. Not in this case, they then even got more irate and rude and I got the charge.

    But I stand by my right to not be verbally abused. What do you think ? Do you stand up for yourself or do you believe its okay to let people tear you down and be verbally aggressive to you and that is our role as a nurse?
    Last edit by brian on Feb 4, '13 : Reason: formatting
  2. Visit evolvingrn profile page

    About evolvingrn

    Joined: Mar '10; Posts: 1,072; Likes: 1,202
    Specialty: hospice


  3. by   loriangel14
    Definitely.You have to nip that right in the bud. We are not there to be abused.I will tell them that I will be back when they are ready to be civil and then I leave . If it is an ongoing problem they are spoken to by the Charge Nurse, manager or sometimes a doctor. We have one female doctor that will chew out patients or families that are rude.
  4. by   anotherone
    it depends. depends on the person. where i work charge can be any nurse and if it is a problem you can page the supervisor . almost no one does as most side with rude pts and their families. i just suck up to them or ignore the comments. depending on what i have observed of their status and personalities i might say something snarky or sarcastic back. it really isnt advisable to tell them off although i dream of it. lol. i have always had jobs that required kissing up to or ignoring rude people. I dont run into this being an issue too often because i come across as either a suck up or completely aloof . i also work nights in part to avoid pts and their visitors!
  5. by   applewhitern
    Our facility will side with the patient and their families. The nurse is always at fault. The patient/visitor can talk to you anyway they want to, treat you any way they want to, threaten you, lie about you. Doesn't matter. They care much more about having clients than they do about the nurse's personal feelings.
  6. by   stablesystole
    It all depends for me. I usually try to preempt things and come in working to charm people from square one and that can often ensure that people don't blow up when they otherwise might have.
    Sometimes it's important to consider why a person is rude or upset because it may have nothing to do with the complaint they are actively voicing. For example, I had a patient once who was just plain being a jerk and going off about every little thing, like the fact that the tech brought him water and dropped the straw but didn't bring him a new one as promised (she had to go deal with a poosplosion). Absolutely out of line for every minor inconvenience. What was actually going on was that the patient had been told by his MD that he had 2 shot valves and triple vessel disease, wasn't a surgical candidate and had 6 months or less to live. He really wasn't having issues with the minor service problems, he was having himself a freakout because he had just been told his days were numbered. Rather than defending myself to him I made myself available as a target for abuse, and a few hours later he got it out of his system and thanked me and apologized profusely.
    Sometimes people are jerks or have legit complaints, but sometimes our patients are in an emotional place where they have a real need to vent anger and frustration and it can be immensely therapeutic to do so.
  7. by   nurseprnRN
    We do meet people where we are and they are how we find them. However, that does not mean that you get "I Am A Doormat, Kick Me" printed on your forehead when you take a nursing position. It is very appropriate to use your therapeutic communication techniques you learned in school. Setting boundaries is perfectly acceptable.

    Patient/family: (Yelling) "You stupid (epithet), I came in here to get care and I get this ugly stupid (racial slur) ... don't you touch my mother...."

    You, cool as a cucumber, no flashing eyes, no raised voice: "Ms. Smith, I understand you're having a hard day and you're upset. We are trying to help you and I am the registered nurse assigned to this ward. Please do not use that kind of language to anyone on this staff. Now, what does your mother need for her....?"
    "Mr. Smith, no one will be able to help you unless you can calm down. Would you like a minute to pull yourself together, and then we can discuss this more calmly?"
    "Jerry, we are trying to help you. Settle down and watch your language."

    Any of these is perfectly OK. In my experience 8+/10 times it's enough to get people to hit the reset button. Sometimes they even apologize and say, "It's been a tough experience."
  8. by   NJnewRN
    It's hard. It's why I've had such a hard time on the floor. No, nurses are not expected to get a full lunch break, urinate when a doctor calls, speak up when a patient or when family members yell at them. Nurses must always smile. Grin and bare it. Give em the good old disney smile. Nope. I make them respect me. Then I flat out purposely ignore patients and family members who think they have a right to follow me into the med room or another patient's room. I had one patient yell at me and tell me that she wants cheese and crackers. I had put her right in her place. I told her not to EVER yell at me or EVER talk to me like that. I'm not your doormat! She quickly apologized. Yup, I even got right back into the faces of nurse managers who tried to justify unsafe situations. And the story goes on and on...blah blah. Basically, I'm getting away from that environment. I've made a decision that if the generation that came before me didn't help lay that foundation for basic human rights, then I can't spend the rest of my career fighting people. So I'm planing my exit for that reason and a multitude of other things.
    Last edit by NJnewRN on Feb 3, '13 : Reason: edit
  9. by   nurseywifeymommy1
    Our facility will side with the pt & family, but that doesn't stop me from letting them know I won't be spoken to in an abusive way.
  10. by   chrisrn24
    You are absolutely in the right.

    I will not allow a patient to be rude or disrespectful to me. I've had patients yell at me, tell me I'm stupid, and spit in my face and try to punch me. The first time Ill say "please stop." If they keep going I tell them, "you are being rude. You need to stop and use a quiet voice/put your hands down." If they refuse then I bring it to the charges attention.
  11. by   Calabria
    I have stood up to patients and their families, and I will continue to do so.

    I got a family member arrested once (on hospital grounds) for continued harassment of me and other employees. I understand that the hospital is a frightening place, but the expectation of acting appropriately still exists and it is an expectation for me that patients and their visitors do not cross that line.
  12. by   SoldierNurse22
    I think NOT standing up for yourself is setting you up for some serious burnout.

    Who wants to go to a place where they aren't encouraged to advocate for themselves by the management, therefore validating the public opinion that nurses are the appropriate recipients of all forms of abuse?

    If I found myself in such an employment position, I'd leave. Period.
  13. by   BARNgirl
    Dear felow nurses:

    Please do not use your facility's position as a point of reference on how you should deal with abusive people in the workplace any more than you would care about whose side your boss would take if your partner physically abused you. It does not matter. Abuse is abuse, you will not be fired if you set your boundaries professionally and calmly. Let your documentation depict an objective description of the altercation, use quotes. It is the only ally you need. Supervisors and bosses are not there for you emotional support, let alone to be your friends: they represent the hospitals as a business, and "the client is always right".

    Been there, stopped that.
  14. by   LadyFree28
    Quote from Calabria
    I have stood up to patients and their families, and I will continue to do so.

    I got a family member arrested once (on hospital grounds) for continued harassment of me and other employees. I understand that the hospital is a frightening place, but the expectation of acting appropriately still exists and it is an expectation for me that patients and their visitors do not cross that line.

    You are RIGHT to create boundaries and not tolerate any form of abusive behavior. Anyone who does tolerate that behavior UNDERSTAND that you MAY be opening up for a potentially dangerous pt into turning into a dangerous pt. The facility won't always be there for you if you get injured, nor for when you set boundaries...but I rather not get injured or something worse...

    And I "meet pts at they are" and draw the boundary line, and will continue to-exactly like the examples GrnTea described, and if necessary, what steps Calabria needed to do.