Have you ever lost it with a patient? - page 3

by notjustanurse | 7,003 Views | 38 Comments

I mean completely lost your cool? I did. Today. We have a frequent flyer who startde the day with bad behavior and I let him get to me. I shouldn't have, but I did.... Read More


  1. 1
    Guess I'm either a liar, or it depends on what you mean (extent) of "lost it." I have been firm with some patients or families, but I don't think I have ever "lost it." Now with some abusive coworkers, I have been firm and really assertive, but not foul or disrespectful--even when they were being loud, obnoxious, and foul with me.

    Someone through work (not a nurse) tried to give me attitude on the phone the other day. I remember thinking, as he was sounding off like a total butt-wedge, "I wonder if he realizes how idiotic he sounds, and how much I couldn't care less about his hissy fit." (LOL) It was like he was trying to rile me up. To me it's like road-ragers. Some of them are looking for someone with whom they can get into a fight. I pull over and let them drive past. Why? Because they don't have the right to control me and live in my head. Same thing with the butt-wedge on the phone. He was really trying to get a rise out of me, but I just stayed calm and to the point. It really bothers people when you don't allow them to bother you. Sometimes if they can't get a rise out of you, they take it as a challenge to step up the game. If they can't do it one way, they try another. Sadly, they don't get that even if they somehow win, they lose. You can get your way, the wrong way, but you can't get your way by being wrong to others and keep your integrity. Someone has said, "You can be "right" or you can have relationship." When you are being wrong about "being right" (or getting your way--or just dumping on someone), you lose out b/c you can't have decent fellowship with the other human being.

    I had some parents be quite nasty. (Most aren't. They are just scared IMHO.) A couple the other day were a bit pushy and demanding, but unwilling to listen to the required SOP, which we, of course, must document. I wasn't going to argue with them on the point, b/c it wasn't a big enough issue. I was respectful to them, completed my documentation, wished them well, and moved on.
    I say try and picture them verbally abusing you are your own time. Would you waste your free time with nonsense? If someone cranked called you and verbally abused you, are you going to yell back like a nut or just hang the thing up? Come on. You'd hang up. You have better things t do. If they are venting that's one thing. If they are abusing others, you have to address it; but it doesn't help, at least not IMO, to get loud and nasty back. People may end up saying, "Hey. I am the patient or family. I am upset. People expect me to get upset, but not you. You're the professional."
    Also, it just ends up escalating things, and the rising anger can block your ability to think for better solutions to the problem--like where your nearest exit is---LOL.

    Now I can't say what I would do necessarily if some patient was screaming, as in the earlier example. B/c if you cause my fight or flight button to go off unexpectedly. . .lol. But I generally find that freaking back is utterly useless. I have, however, been loud and demanding when I haven't gotten help fast enough in order to code a kid. Felt a bit embarassed about it afterwards too.
    Last edit by samadams8 on Aug 30, '12
    Getting To Great likes this.
  2. 2
    I don't call it 'losing it' I call it limit setting

    And yes I have. I don't yell, but I do make them clean themselves up and I refuse to placate them when they are being unreasonable.
    JB2007 and Fiona59 like this.
  3. 4
    YES! A young woman (girl) was in the process of delivering her first baby and things weren't progressing very well. Her boyfriend (baby daddy) was all set to go into the OR with her...until her mom AND his mom stepped in and began fighting about who would be allowed to go. This poor girl was so scared and exhausted and they kept badgering her to make a choice, neither of them wanting Dad to be the choice. I lit into them about how disrespectful they were being and then proceeded to let them know Dad would be going instead. I told the Dr...and they had to stay in the hall.
    VictoriaGayle, JB2007, Hygiene Queen, and 1 other like this.
  4. 0
    I have lost it with a patient, a particularly nasty woman in LTC who really does not like me, as I follow rules and procedures for safety and will not do things her way, which are dangerous to her and myself for transfers ect.
    (I am fine with patients who are so demented and out of it that they do not know or understand what they are doing or saying, I feel for them and understand that it is the disease talking, not a true reflection of their feelings, but this woman is of complete mental soundness and is just nasty mean.)
    One particluar night she started in on her verbal assault on me, to which I calmly respond back to, but finally I had enough of this woman when she would not toliet transfer safetly. I explained again that I would not transfer her "her way" as why is it was unsafe for her and for me, ect ect. She continued to berate me to the point I was at my breaking point. I finally looked down at her and said, "I guess you dont comprehend what I am saying to you, but I will NOT do things your way. I guess tonight you will sit in your own ****!"
    I turned on heel and walked out of the room!
  5. 2
    Yep, worked in a rehab hospital on the LTC vent floor...being confined to a vent and living in a facility for the rest of their lives has left these people fighting for any amount of control they can get. I feel for them but Im sorry when you try to boss me around and tell me how to do my job and demand this and that with entitlement and no concept of the other 40 pts on the floor, Im gonna tell you off and tell you to cool your guns.
    BrandonLPN and Fiona59 like this.
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    Yep we all have that is unless you are new. But it will even happen to you! I haven't lost it with docs other than behind their backs. Although I guess I have once when one was yelling at me over the phone and I hanged up. He called back and I said "Oh I guess your cell dropped" and all was fine. I have been "fired" by patients also. Does not bother me as I look at it as getting a difficult person off my back. I had a young walkie talkie who would use the bedside commode when she could walk to bathroom. I told her it was better for her to use the bathroom and she just looked at me. So I took it out of the room and that was that! What normal person who can walk without an issue want to use a commode?
    Fiona59 likes this.
  7. 0
    had an Aids pt back in the 80's purposely open his IV and bled all over the floor and demanded we clean it up!
  8. 1
    I've been a nurse for 18 years and have had many, many instances where I have had to set limits with patients, visitors, staff, and physicians. I work in a hospital where the clientele is, shall we say, not the greatest. Being in a female dominated profession, I think sometimes people think that they can just strong-arm a female. Well, they have just once to try that with me. I take my job seriously and I am there to care for patients and not deal with nonsense that just kills my time. I believe you can be firm, without being unprofessional, and get your point across. I think people will respect you when they see you mean business. But yeah, I've lost it!!!
    KitkatPRN likes this.
  9. 2
    As a CNA, one time I got kicked in the face by a patient and was caught completely off guard by my anger. I just stood there stunned and swearing and then just walked out of the room. The CNA helping me was thankfully, a fantastic team player and got someone else to help.

    As a nurse, I have had to leave the floor on occasion, because I don't want to think about what I would say if I opened those floodgates.

    I have also, in a few telephone conversations with irate family members (and even a doctor) experienced a "bad phone connection," said "hello? hello? I think the phone is cutting out" and then hung up on them.
    JB2007 and VivaLasViejas like this.
  10. 0
    Quote from Cold Stethoscope
    Personally I don't blame anyone for losing it when victimized by abusive patients, doctors, administrators, etc., but a lot of the commenters in threads think that it's tantamount to a mortal sin to ever start yelling, under any circumstances — end of story.
    My comment makes less sense since it was edited. I linked three other, older threads on this site on the same subject, and pointed out that a lot of people in those threads were strongly against "losing it" in front of a patient. Apparently that type of linking is not allowed. I guess you can search for those threads on your own, if interested.


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