Drawing the Line: Shutting Down Verbal Abuse - page 2

by canesdukegirl Guide

7,311 Visits | 23 Comments

It's 3 p.m. The witching hour for any operating room. As our medical director makes rounds, he tallies up how many late rooms are running, and compares that to how many surgical and anesthesia staff we have available to run... Read More


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    @Jose--"fellow" in this case refers to the doctor's place in the teaching hospital heirarchy. She is one step below the attending (professor) on the service. She has completed her residency and is receiveing advanced education in the specialty. She has been around long enough to know better how to interact w/other members of the team in a productive manner. Apparently, in this case, she missed the class on how to play nicely and the one on listening.
  2. 13
    Quote from Altra
    Agree. "Verbal abuse" doesn't happen unless you remain on the phone long enough after snarkiness has already reared its head. Question answered ... caller directed to manager who made the decision for further discussion ... other phones ringing and patient emergency taking place ... conversation ended.
    You are right. I should have ended the conversation earlier. I knew that this fellow was new, and likely didn't understand block times. Part of my job is to explain the whys and hows of processes in the OR. That's why I was explaining it to her.

    I expected that she would be angry, because most surgeons are angry when their cases are delayed. I didn't expect that she would turn the conversation into a personal insult, and that's where I drew the line.

    Snarkiness is something that I deal with every single day. When staff/surgeons/anesthesiologist approach the charge desk, it's usually because they are angry about something, need to vent, need to lodge a complaint, or need clarification on something.

    One of the things that I love about my job is that it's challenging. Ninety percent of the time, the snarkiness comes from a misunderstanding or some kind of miscommunication. I like to be able to resolve issues in real time, as they occur.

    In this situation, I felt that I needed to explain the decision making process. I could have routed her to the Medical Director, but I wanted to try to resolve the issue first. The emergencies occurred almost simultaneously. I handled one, while my secretary was posting the other, and calling staff to get an OR ready (yeah, she's da bomb!).

    Here's the bottom line: I knew that Dr. D personally spoke to this fellow about holding her case. She didn't speak to him the same way she spoke to me. If she had, then it would have been dealt with in his office. Since Dr. D and I agreed on this plan, why is it that she had no compunction to be disrespectful to me? Because she thinks that she can bully a nurse. I thought it prudent to stand up for myself, and send a very clear message that rudeness and bullying will not be tolerated.
    Last edit by canesdukegirl on Jun 16, '13 : Reason: tense
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  3. 2
    Thank you for this article!! I'm a new grad RN but I've been working as a LPN for the past year or so. I've dealt with a bully (another LPN) and it really makes me dislike being in the facility. I've been yelled at, called late at night (after my shift) to be questioned/yelled at about the location of a pt's neb (all the nurse had to do was turn her head to see the neb sitting on the pt's nightstand), and belittled (because I am a "PRN nurse not a full-time nurse"). One day during end-of-shift report, I was questioned/yelled at because I didn't give a pt a new med. The order was not clear so I did not give it. Yet, this nurse insisted that I should have given it. I discussed it with my supervisor and she agreed that the order didn't make since and got it clarified by the dr.

    Sorry, I went on a tangent but you get the point. I've been dealing with this for too long. If I come in to work a shift to find out that this nurse is coming in for the next one, I get this tense feeling in my body just thinking about it. I can't stand bullies. Again, thank you for this post!
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    Great article! I also work in the OR and know how hard it can be to be nice to snarky surgeons. People who don't work in the OR just don't know how psychologically distressing it can be! OR personnel are very aware that we depend on surgeons for work, so there has to be a certain amount of politeness when addressing docs. Our charge nurse is so great at smoothing things over with the docs, and that is a true gift. I once had a surgeon so mad that he left the room gowned, gloved and bloody and stormed to the front desk to yell at the charge nurse, only to come back in 5 minutes later with a smile! That's the sign of a good charge nurse. If you get ***** with every doctor who has an attitude then your no better than they are. You absolutely did the right thing by explaining yourself to the fellow.
    aknottedyarn and canesdukegirl like this.
  5. 0
    OP you are a saint and tolerated the fellow's behavior MUCH longer then I would have. I very much disagree with you that hanging up on her was unprofessional. You were left with no other options in the face of aggresive bullying.
    I am almost alwasy unable to stop myself from responding in kind, usually followed by an invitation to meet them alone in the parking lot for a "talk". Now THAT is unprofessional and I know it. It is however also highly effective and stoping and preventing rude, agressive, condecending behavior from physicians.
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    That's why I never wanted to work in an OR! No way do I want to be surrounded by Prima Donna surgeons lashing out for things beyond anyone's control.
    canesdukegirl likes this.
  7. 1
    canesdukegirl,
    You are absolutely right. Abusers and bullies will scream at people they deem "underlings", then turn around and smile in the faces of their bosses. (Sometimes the bosses have done the same annoying and/or objectionable actions the underling did.)
    It's the old "kick the dog" syndrome. It's very cruel. These people need to be reported and weeded out.
    canesdukegirl likes this.
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    Loved the article. When in the middle of a conversation where you're being bullied, it's easy to get anxious, lose your composure and join in on the arguing. I thought you responded in a mature, levelheaded fashion. If only we ALL were able to defuse a situation like that.

    I'm not correcting your behavior, but I might have said, "Dr whatever, I am hanging up the phone now, goodbye." and then hung up the phone, just to cover my butt in case someone decided to write me up for it.
    Last edit by RegisteredNuisance on Jun 17, '13 : Reason: changed write "you" up to "me"
    canesdukegirl and canoehead like this.
  9. 2
    Absolutely professional response by the OP, I wouldn't have lasted that long. I think my go-to response, after explaining the reasoning would be to discuss it with the director if you don't like the decisions, conversation over.
    canesdukegirl and prmenrs like this.
  10. 0
    I hope that you wrote up the fellow.


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