ER Nurse Attitude - page 2

by Chlometov 8,920 Views | 70 Comments

A few weeks ago, my 89 year-old grandmother fell at her home, resulting in a bleeding gash in her arm (and later discovered, a broken hip). My mother took her to the emergency room. I wasn't there, so everything I write here is... Read More


  1. 5
    Try and give the nurse the benefit of the doubt. It could have been one of those nights that we have all had, where everyone around you is circling the drain and you can't catch up for falling behind.... and then all of a sudden the daughter of the little old lady with the broken arm who was your "easy" patient decides to kick up and that's when you completely lose your mind. It happens.
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    Thank you, all, for your responses. I just wanted to see all of your perspectives on the issue. I had explained to my mom at the time that nurses can be pulled in several different directions at once and that I can understand why the nurse was acting the way she was. It was just a frustrating night for all parties involved. Like I said before, I felt particularly torn on the issue because I have been on both sides in my short experience of being in the hospital. I feel like I mention this in every post of mine, but I'm still only a student so I still have a lot to learn when dealing with patients, families, and colleagues
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    Yeah, the nurse was rude, and a lot of people gave reasons why she might have been rude. She could have just as easily said, "We are all caught up with emergency situations. Your mother is currently stable, and someone will be with her as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience." But she didn't. Shrug it off.
    tewdles, sapphire18, jadelpn, and 1 other like this.
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    To be honest, I don't see anything in your post that actually demonstrates that the nurse was being rude. I work in the ER and I have often found that there is a double edged sword in talking to patients and their families. First of all, they are upset about the situation they are in and unrealistic about their wait times. (Seriously, an hour to be seen is nothing.) Second, they want information and are largely capable of rational thought.

    So if I were to say, "I'm sorry for your wait. We are busy with patients that are LITERALLY trying to die right now...it might be be percieved as rude now matter how I say it because...well...its not the answer someone who is upset, unrealistic, operating without information (they don't know our other patients) but still capable of rational thought wants to hear. In other words, I literally become their whipping boy because they don't like the answer.

    When they argue and you tell them, you could wait up to six hours to have that gash sutured, their rational mind understands that you are trying to prioritize but they don't like where they fall on the priorities list.

    Further, I think patients and their families become self conscious and their egos get bruised because they can't think of anything more serious or important than what is happening to their family member until they realize that they have been independently assessed as stable and can wait. Its hard news to react to!

    I don't know how many times I have seen that happen or been the victim myself. I remember a specific situation in which a family member complained that a physician had been "rude" to them when he informed them of a patient's death. However, I had been standing in the room when he delivered the news. He was professional, straightforward and honest. He gave them time to answer questions and expressed his sympathies to them. He is one of the nicest docs I have ever met yet...he was rude to them?? No, not so.

    Bottom line: No one likes bad news. No one likes being told that someone else is sicker.
    monkeybug, anotherone, audacia, and 10 others like this.
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    I'm wondering why, in this age of customer service hysteria, they don't have a hostess in the ER. Doesn't have to be a nurse, just a well dressed, professional looking person to go from room to room with a hostess cart offering coffee, cookies and approved platitudes.

    The above might sound like sarcasm, but I don't mean it that way.
    It would free up medical staff, and thrill families who require frequent 1-1.
    The OP's family was not upset with the message, but in the way it was delivered. The nurse was rude. Hire somebody whose job is simply to schmooze the pts.
    LuckyoneRN, rangerlil, Ruas61, and 9 others like this.
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    Quote from imintrouble
    I'm wondering why, in this age of customer service hysteria, they don't have a hostess in the ER. Doesn't have to be a nurse, just a well dressed, professional looking person to go from room to room with a hostess cart offering coffee, cookies and approved platitudes.The above might sound like sarcasm, but I don't mean it that way.It would free up medical staff, and thrill families who require frequent 1-1.The OP's family was not upset with the message, but in the way it was delivered. The nurse was rude. Hire somebody whose job is simply to schmooze the pts.
    Some ERs have this. It works to a point but also has its drawbacks. They feed everyone but scurry to come get you when a patient vomits up what they fed them. They push through complainers to the detriment of other patients. They make non medical judgments in situations and exert their influence to get what they want. Better yet, they make a convenient spy for management so it's ends up being another rear you have to kiss rather than helping you out since they can impart no medical wisdom to patients. (Ex. Why do I need this test? Customer service rep: let me ask your nurse! Another example: customer service rep: patient says you didn't medicate them for pain. You: I already told them that they have to wait...)
    anotherone, imintrouble, canoehead, and 8 others like this.
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    If you weren't there to witness the exchange, how do you know the nurse didn't explain things calmly to your mother and it was your mother who took things out of context?

    Codes do trump everything else in the ED.
    anotherone, imintrouble, canoehead, and 4 others like this.
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    Quote from Chlometov
    Thank you, all, for your responses. I just wanted to see all of your perspectives on the issue. I had explained to my mom at the time that nurses can be pulled in several different directions at once and that I can understand why the nurse was acting the way she was. It was just a frustrating night for all parties involved. Like I said before, I felt particularly torn on the issue because I have been on both sides in my short experience of being in the hospital. I feel like I mention this in every post of mine, but I'm still only a student so I still have a lot to learn when dealing with patients, families, and colleagues
    The ED is a difficult place to work. Everyone needs to be seen immediately.....from their (the family and patient) point of view. I have always found that the hardest to deal with is the parent with their first born child that took 3 years of in vitro to get with the first chin laceration that the child will survive this injury and waiting will not cause the child their life.

    The families perception of urgency is completely on the other end of the spectrum from the ER nurse priority and point of view. That the nurse didn't take the time to "explain" or not sound rushed is sometimes the necessary evil in the ED.....for all you know they were coding a baby.

    Yes sometimes we are over whelmed and rushed and in our task oriented demeanor (which is imperative in the ED) we may sound harsh or not very fuzzy. It is very possible that the nurses delivery of the message left plenty to desire...but she may have been so overwhelmed.

    I'm sorry your Grandma was injured and I will say prayers she will heal quickly......just remember that your mothers love for her mother....clouds her vision slightly. The demands on the ED nurse can sometimes make her responses less than optimal.

    Good Luck in school.
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    The nurse was being honest, and while that may come off as rude, she's probably been dealing with people pestering her or being nasty to her all day. The nurse is a human being. I am positive she deals with a lot of jerks daily. And sometimes, a person can't take anymore, so maybe she was rude but it's not personal.

    A bleeding cut is not life-threatening. They probably had stroke or heart attack victims or stat surgical needs or women in labor or something. I get that she thinks it was rude but would you want them rushing back a person with a non-life threatening injury (or listening to someone whine) if your loved one was slurring their speech, face drooped, can't talk, can't walk, unconscious, or having chest pains? No. They aren't making you wait on purpose, you just have to wait as long as it takes. They are human and can only do what they can do. Honestly, I find that if a patient or family member bugs me about something non-emergent it makes things go much slower, makes me annoyed/angry, and makes them end up actually waiting longer. And whining about it the whole time.
    anotherone, canoehead, loriangel14, and 1 other like this.
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    Quote from imintrouble
    I'm wondering why, in this age of customer service hysteria, they don't have a hostess in the ER. Doesn't have to be a nurse, just a well dressed, professional looking person to go from room to room with a hostess cart offering coffee, cookies and approved platitudes.

    The above might sound like sarcasm, but I don't mean it that way.
    It would free up medical staff, and thrill families who require frequent 1-1.
    The OP's family was not upset with the message, but in the way it was delivered. The nurse was rude. Hire somebody whose job is simply to schmooze the pts.
    They'd cut a budget and lower nurse staffing to do so, and the patients and families would still whine.
    imintrouble and NutmeggeRN like this.


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