ER Nurse Attitude

  1. 0
    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 what was told to me by my mother.

    After my grandmother was brought into the ER and placed into a room, arm still bleeding, she and my mom waited an hour and was still not seen or treated by a nurse or doctor. My mother goes out into the hallway to find someone to see what's happening and why no one has seen them yet. I don't remember the exact events, but there was one nurse who was extremely curt with my mother. She stated, "We literally having patients dying right now", using her hands to emphasize, and added that it's okay for bleeding to occur for a certain amount of hours, her justification was that infection won't occur until hour 6 of bleeding. (Which really is not in the best interest of my grandmother, who has anemia and frequently requires blood transfusions, but I can give the nurse the benefit of the doubt because how was she supposed to know that?)

    I just feel like the nurse was very rude about the situation, and could have handled it better. I understand that nurses need to prioritize patient care regarding acuity, but just bluntly stating that she "literally has patients dying" invalidates both my mom's right to be concerned for her mother and my grandmother's need for treatment and care.

    It is possible that my mother could have been bothersome to the nurses, I wouldn't know beause I wasn't present to witness it, but couldn't the nurse have calmly explained the situation and why no one has seen them yet?

    I am experiencing some cognitive dissonance from this situation, because I have been on both sides of this. I am angry at this nurse for being rude to my mother and inattentive to my grandmother, but I also know how irritating family members of patients can be, unaware of the fact that nurses have several patients for which to care. (So far in my hospital experience, dealing with family members is my least favorite part of nursing.) I'm trying to justify the actions on both the part of my mother and of the nurse, and I just want to know your thoughts on this.
  2. 8,936 Visits
    Find Similar Topics
  3. 70 Comments so far...

  4. 22
    Was your mother unfamiliar with the concept of triage and waiting your turn? While your grandmother's injuries were do doubt distressing for your mother, they weren't deemed to be life threatening and your grandmother was in no danger while she waited. There could very well have been someone dying.She wasn't invalidating their need for attention, they just weren't going to be going ahead of the other person.She wasn't likely being rude, but telling it like it is.
  5. 0
    Quote from loriangel14
    Was your mother unfamiliar with the concept of triage and waiting your turn? While your grandmother's injuries were do doubt distressing for your mother, they weren't deemed to be life threatening and your grandmother was in no danger while she waited. There could very well have been someone dying.She wasn't invalidating their need for attention, they just weren't going to be going ahead of the other person.She wasn't likely being rude, but telling it like it is.
    I think the issue was less about what the nurse was saying and more of how she was explaining it. She could have used a little more detail and stated exactly what you said: that while distressing, my grandmother is not in a life-threatening condition unlike the other patient and therefore the other patient must be treated first. A tiny bit of compassion would have been welcomed.
  6. 5
    The way in which the nurse in question delivered the message may have been inappropriate. Considering that neither you nor anyone else who will respond was there that day, it is impossible for anyone (you, me, the rest of AN) to know the nurse's tone of voice, her body language, etc. If she was truly rude about it, then she was wrong. That having been said, she was speaking the truth. There probably were several pts. in the ER were in much worse shape that your grandmother. My experience is that patients are much more likely to be understanding about their wait if they are politely reminded that there are sicker people in the ER than them, and someone will be in as soon as possible. Again, the nurse can be criticized for not being polite, but not for the message she delivered.
  7. 0
    Quote from psu_213
    The way in which the nurse in question delivered the message may have been inappropriate. Considering that neither you nor anyone else who will respond was there that day, it is impossible for anyone (you, me, the rest of AN) to know the nurse's tone of voice, her body language, etc. If she was truly rude about it, then she was wrong. That having been said, she was speaking the truth. There probably were several pts. in the ER were in much worse shape that your grandmother. My experience is that patients are much more likely to be understanding about their wait if they are politely reminded that there are sicker people in the ER than them, and someone will be in as soon as possible. Again, the nurse can be criticized for not being polite, but not for the message she delivered.
    I completely understand, and I especially agree with your last sentence, which I felt like is the biggest issue for me. The issue isn't the fact that my grandmother had to wait but, from what I was told, that the nurse was being rude.
  8. 4
    While unfortunate, sometimes rudeness happens.You do state in your post that it is possible you mother was being bothersome to the nurses.If they were stressed and busy and she was driving them bonkers she may have been a little rude no doubt.
    anotherone, canoehead, joanna73, and 1 other like this.
  9. 16
    I often find families simply do not care. No one matters but them or their family member's regardless of the situations at hand. Was the nurse rude or blunt, I have no idea but in terms of dealing with families no matter the tone, they are usually upset if their needs are not dealt with ASAP. Could your mother have misunderstood the nurse, of course.. In a time of high stress coding, cardiac arrest etc we tend to have a tone of urgency in our voice and that tone can lack compassion.
  10. 5
    (JOKE!) Did your mother maybe follow the nurse into the room where they were intubating a patient and doing CPR to ask for a blanket from the warmer?


    Seriously though, it's hard to be family in the emergency room because people are concentrating on the "emergency" part. It can be especially difficult if you are asking for help and get rebuffed instead of getting some kind of info like "We're waiting for the ortho specialist to call back before the doctor can come in with a plan". We have all of our wait times posted in each room so people have a general idea of how long they'll be waiting for, but it doesn't always help.
  11. 7
    I'm sorry you're frustrated, but since you're hearing everything second hand, AND your mom probably was taking thing out of context since she was worried about her mom, I really don't know what kind of resolution you can expect. I get venting for ventings sake, but since you don't actually know what was said and how, I don't know that there's anything we can say to make you feel better. As an ED nurse I've had to say the exact same thing to pts families because yes, while their loved ones are in pain and scared, they are not in a life threatening situation. And I'm pretty sure your grandma wasn't left bleeding to death in her room. Sorry you have to deal with this, but try to let your mom know that your gma wasn't in a life threatening situation and that sometimes there is a very long wait in the ED, even when you're bleeding.
    anotherone, rangerlil, Orange Tree, and 4 others like this.
  12. 10
    I very well may be wrong, and the nurse might have been rude just because. But if there were literally patients dying in that moment, I might be a little more abrupt than usual if a family member was hunting me down to go see a non-emergent patient. And for all you know, your mother might have been like the 10th person to ask why they or their loved one hadn't been seen yet. Not to mention the fact that some people can very much embellish or misunderstand when they are stressed, like when your mother is bleeding and in pain. Know what I mean?
    monkeybug, anotherone, rangerlil, and 7 others like this.


Top