Exit Strategies For Nurses Who Deal With Overly Talkative Patients

by TheCommuter Asst. Admin

12,778 Views | 30 Comments

How do busy nurses remove themselves from seemingly never-ending conversations with overly chatty patients and visitors without coming across as rude or abrupt? Keep reading for tips and strategies to smoothly extricate oneself from these sticky situations.

  1. 9

    Exit Strategies For Nurses Who Deal With Overly Talkative Patients

    I am a nurse who deals with multiple patients during the course of each shift. Sometimes Ill get a patient who simply talks too much and wont let me leave the room. Sometimes a family member will be the one who is talking too much, keeping me in the room and hogging my limited time. My question is this how do I remove myself from overly chatty people like this without being rude? I am busy at work and have other things to do, so I cant talk to these people all day.

    Many nurses seem to ask variations of the aforementioned question. We want to be polite to our patients and visitors, albeit for different reasons. Some of us believe in the treat others as you would want to be treated mantra, whereas other nurses are merely trying to avoid being reported to management because some excessively chatty patient or family member wanted us to sit in the room and talk to them all day. Still, other nurses have fast-paced, busy workloads and just do not have the time to hold a lengthy discussion with someone who wants to tell you his life story. Either way, nurses want courteous ploys that will get them the heck away from that talkative person, if only for a brief period of time.

    The timeless exit strategy for nurses is an adaptation of I really need to be somewhere right now, so youll have to excuse me, but we will definitely talk later. Some variants that sound truthful and plausible in the healthcare environment have been listed below.
    • I am expecting an important phone call from a doctor right about now. (S)he is going to phone the nurses station, not my personal phone, so I need to be there to take the call.
    • A meeting is scheduled to start in a few minutes and I am supposed to be present.
    • I need to accompany one of my other patients to another department for an appointment.
    • I am beginning to feel dizzy. I need to get something to drink, but Ill be back to see you later.
    • I forgot to do something very important. Please excuse me for a moment.
    • My manager wants to see me right now. You will have to excuse me.

    Of course, always feel free to say I enjoyed talking to you. We can resume this discussion at some other time, if you want to maintain an impression of warmth and geniality. Smile while you are telling the patient or family member these things.

    Here are a few more pointers:
    • Keep in mind that you are telling the patient or visitor that youre leaving the room. You are not asking them if you can leave the room, so do not ever frame your statement as a question.
    • Please dont kick yourself over the fact that you are telling the patient or family a little white lie.
    • If the patient or family member does not seem to understand the hints you are dropping, you will need to be more upfront: Its been a pleasure talking with you, but I really need to see my other patients and get started on my other tasks. Although management does not want nursing staff to mention the other patients they have, sometimes this is the only way the overly babbly patient or visitor will catch a clue that you have other things to do.
    Last edit by Joe V on Dec 23, '13
    malamom, HappyWife77, Mariachi, and 6 others like this.
  2. Read more articles from TheCommuter

  3. Get our hottest nursing topics delivered to your inbox.

  4. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 26,488 Likes: 36,585; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website


    Find Similar Topics

    30 Comments so far...

  5. 10

    Why lie or beat about the bush? Simply say that you have to check on your other patients, and you will be back later.

    "I'm getting dizzy and need to go get something to drink." LOLOL.
    mebe5, SoldierNurse22, Janey496, and 7 others like this.
  6. 8
    Have your buddy "rescue page" you out of the room. Set an appointed time when you want your pager/phone to ring - or you can ask to be paged to the nurse's station over the call button speakers. Works like a charm :-)
    curlygirlie3, Dazglue, nyteshade, and 5 others like this.
  7. 1
    Quote from OCNRN63
    Why lie or beat about the bush? Simply say that you have to check on your other patients, and you will be back later.
    At my place of employment, management will scold nurses who even dare to mention their other patients or tasks to the lone patient who wants to monopolize their time, especially in this era where patient satisfaction scores matter.

    I once received a phone call from my manager. She said, "You told Mrs. Smith's daughter that you had other patients to check? Please don't mention your other patients to visitors and patients, please."
    pinkiepieRN likes this.
  8. 2
    Quote from AJPV
    Have your buddy "rescue page" you out of the room. Set an appointed time when you want your pager/phone to ring - or you can ask to be paged to the nurse's station over the call button speakers. Works like a charm :-)
    This only works if you're forewarned. One time I had an admission that kept talking for 20 minutes, tears rolling down their eyes as they told me their life story. I felt horrible but was trapped, trying to look for away out without seeming heartless.
    SHGR and 1RN4Christ like this.
  9. 6
    Quote from TheCommuter
    At my place of employment, management will scold nurses who even dare to mention their other patients or tasks to the lone patient who wants to monopolize their time, especially in this era where patient satisfaction scores matter.

    I once received a phone call from my manager. She said, "You told Mrs. Smith's daughter that you had other patients to check? Please don't mention your other patients to visitors and patients, please."

    That's ridiculous. I still think it's crazy to say you're going to faint and need to get a drink. I'm surprised you wouldn't get in trouble for telling a patient you have physical needs.

    "I need to leave now, but I'll be back to talk later." If a patient/family member can't handle that, tough rocks.
  10. 0
    If it's remotely close to med time (feels like it always is!) I like to use the classic "Oh, shoot, it's (insert time here). I've got to go check and get everyone's, including your, meds together. I'll be back in a bit, ok?"

    If I feel a patient really needs to talk, I try to use that quiet bit of time (the mid afternoon on day shift) to talk to them. I can get a fair amount of charting done because we have computers at the bedside at my facility.
  11. 0
    I am currently a nursing student and work as a phlebotomist at my community hospital. I have to draw a handful of draws within 3 minutes each to stay on top of my game. I alos come across patients that seem as if they don't breath while they ramble. I feel so horrible when cutting them off so I wont get behind! This post is really helpful! Definitely going to to use some of these phrases during work and clinical rounds.
  12. 9
    I back pedal to the door and open it, that usually delivers the subtle hint.
    JrRnNycole, HappyWife77, duckydot28, and 6 others like this.
  13. 5
    Since I choose not to lie to my patients, I usually say something along the lines of " I have to leave now, I'll be back soon to check on you. " Usually, that is my exit strategy.


Top