I am struggling with patient families lately. - page 12

by jennilynn

I am fed up with patient families treating the hospital like a family reunion site. I am tired of the family members that insist on staying the night, why? In some cases I get it. But when your boyfriend has the flu or your nana... Read More


  1. 0
    Last night I was at the bedside of my patient in "bed 1". I was not doing any care beyond talking with her (which, in my opinion, is an important part of nursing care), however, I was clearly engaged with my patient.

    The daughter of the patient in "bed 2" came and stood at the other side of patient 1's bed, watching me.

    I ignored her for a moment, but when she continued to stand there I paused my conversation to address this.

    She started speaking, and I said I was with my patient and would speak to her when I was done. She cut me off and continued talking about her mother (who was sleeping, and therefore having no urgent problems).

    I held my hand up to stop her, and I repeated, "I am with my patient right now, and I will come speak with you when I am finished."

    This is an ongoing pattern with this family. I should not have to repeat myself but I frequently do. I do not ever have a problem chatting with family members, but it is inappropriate for them to interrupt my time with my other patient, to enter that patient's area, without an urgent reason to do so.

    This is a mild example, but an example of how families can be frustrating. Again, it isn't their presence or their involvement with my patient I take issue with, but rather their inappropriate behaviour.

    I don't think it is unreasonable to expect a certain degree of respect for others from the families of our patients. That's just basic, in my opinion. Or should be anyway.
  2. 0
    It truly scares me to read the comments from some of these nurses. Bedside manner is dreadfully lacking these days by nurses and doctors. It's a critical component to the role of a healthcare provider. You deal with these situations everyday. The patients and familes do not. You're dealing with people at their most vulnerable moments. If you can't handle these situations with some sort of class and decorum, please leave the profession. I hear a lot of emotionally burnt-out nurses on this board. Get out of the profession. You chose this career and you choose to stay in it. Nobody forced you to become a nurse or to continue being one. Families can be a pain in the ass, but I truly don't think they're intentionally trying to make your life more difficult. I think they're scared and confused. And this might manifest itself as being obnoxious sometimes. I've seen the inner workings of healthcare and those that provide it- Some are the best people on earth. Some are truly evil incarnate.
  3. 0
    Quote from courtneyfredrick
    It truly scares me to read the comments from some of these nurses. Bedside manner is dreadfully lacking these days by nurses and doctors. It's a critical component to the role of a healthcare provider. You deal with these situations everyday. The patients and familes do not. You're dealing with people at their most vulnerable moments. If you can't handle these situations with some sort of class and decorum, please leave the profession. I hear a lot of emotionally burnt-out nurses on this board. Get out of the profession. You chose this career and you choose to stay in it. Nobody forced you to become a nurse or to continue being one. Families can be a pain in the ass, but I truly don't think they're intentionally trying to make your life more difficult. I think they're scared and confused. And this might manifest itself as being obnoxious sometimes. I've seen the inner workings of healthcare and those that provide it- Some are the best people on earth. Some are truly evil incarnate.
    A lot of what you read here is venting, stuff we say here because we know we can't say to the persons involved. Obviously people are scared but that is no excuse to be rude, and it can be very challenging to handle these situations. Most often the families (and by that I mean the extreme examples, not all families) don't realize it, but it is their own actions that take up my time and prevent me from providing the care I would like to for their loved one.

    As much as you are telling nurses to think about where the families are coming from (and believe me, we do), you should extend us the same courtesy and stop to think where we are coming from, too.
  4. 8
    Quote from courtneyfredrick
    It truly scares me to read the comments from some of these nurses. Bedside manner is dreadfully lacking these days by nurses and doctors. It's a critical component to the role of a healthcare provider. You deal with these situations everyday. The patients and familes do not. You're dealing with people at their most vulnerable moments. If you can't handle these situations with some sort of class and decorum, please leave the profession. I hear a lot of emotionally burnt-out nurses on this board. Get out of the profession. You chose this career and you choose to stay in it. Nobody forced you to become a nurse or to continue being one. Families can be a pain in the ass, but I truly don't think they're intentionally trying to make your life more difficult. I think they're scared and confused. And this might manifest itself as being obnoxious sometimes. I've seen the inner workings of healthcare and those that provide it- Some are the best people on earth. Some are truly evil incarnate.
    Enough already with the sanctimonious preachingoop:.

    Yes, families of people who are hospitalized are under stress ... and this means that whatever dysfunctional dynamics they have going are magnified. It's not unusual for outsiders, like nurses, to be drawn into the drama, either as targets or unwitting co-conspirators.

    Such drama involves, almost by definition, the kind of major boundary violations we've seen described in this and many other threads.

    I think most of us can tell the difference between a family that is "scared and confused" and the kind of narcissistic, abusive behavior being addressed here. Apparently, you can't.

    There is no professional duty described in any nurse practice act anywhere that requires me to become a punching bag for any fool with an agenda.

    What I do have is a duty to provide safe, effective nursing care that preserves the dignity and privacy of all the people in my care ... you know, the people in the beds that are having to wait ... and wait ... and wait to have their needs met while their nurse is dealing with unnecessary nonsense.

    The ones who now have to deal with a nurse who is likely to have an attitude of her own because of having to suppress the very healthy anger that comes from being manipulated or abused.

    The ones whose privacy and dignity are being violated by the dysfunctional family's disrespect and intrusiveness.

    The ones who go hungry because some family came and cleaned out the kitchen ... who can't get healing rest because of the party next door and the children running wild in the halls.

    If you think I sound a bit testy, you would be right. I am so over being told that the only way to be a nurse is to not only allow whatever abuse comes my way, but to believe that it's justified.

    I neither know nor care what your experience is of health care. If you believe that nurses are obligated to commit emotional hara kiri, you are wrong and you need to go away. I'm not interested in your agenda.
    JBudd, SionainnRN, jrwest, and 5 others like this.
  5. 0
    Quote from courtneyfredrick
    It truly scares me to read the comments from some of these nurses. Bedside manner is dreadfully lacking these days by nurses and doctors. It's a critical component to the role of a healthcare provider. You deal with these situations everyday. The patients and familes do not. You're dealing with people at their most vulnerable moments. If you can't handle these situations with some sort of class and decorum, please leave the profession. I hear a lot of emotionally burnt-out nurses on this board. Get out of the profession. You chose this career and you choose to stay in it. Nobody forced you to become a nurse or to continue being one. Families can be a pain in the ass, but I truly don't think they're intentionally trying to make your life more difficult. I think they're scared and confused. And this might manifest itself as being obnoxious sometimes. I've seen the inner workings of healthcare and those that provide it- Some are the best people on earth. Some are truly evil incarnate.
    It truly scares me too, and I am an RN. I do not practice at the bedside, but all my training is utilized when my family members are hospitalized (I stay with them throughout their stay, or until they are unequivocally stable). I have caught nursing errors, substituted for the aide when there were not enough staff, advocated for my family member and supported my family member in every way I could, including protecting my family member from poor quality nursing care. Frankly, I am afraid to turn my back on my family member when they are in the hospital. I even told my family member on one occasion to make sure the nurse gave him the correct amount of pills when I wasn't there, and my family member had to correct the nurse as the nurse was about to give him double the dose! The majority of the nurses have been good or acceptable, but not all, and with short staffing even the best nurses and aides can only do so much.

    You mentioned your family member being in the ICU in an earlier post on this thread. I empathize with your concerns for your family member at this time, and with the stress you went through. I had a close family member in CCU after surgery. One of his nurses asked me "Where are you staying?" I said "I'm sleeping in the lounge", to which she replied "Ugh, you're sleeping in your clothes." Words failed me. I too wonder at how clueless or burned out some nurses are. If it is a challenge for me, an RN who has studied and become certified in emergency nursing, to navigate the BS and support and protect my family member when I am by their bedside day and night, I can well understand how difficult it must be for family members without nursing/medical training, who may not be in the best of health themselves.

    Like samadams8, I assist the staff in any way I can and ask for nothing except to be allowed to stay by my family member's bedside to support and protect them. I am fortunate to be in good health, and I have never needed to make extra requests of the nursing staff for my own comfort/nutrition etc, but I understand how family members who are stressed, afraid, exhausted, have no nursing/medical training training along with possibly their own health problems, or are concerned about paying the hospital bill, may have more needs and make more demands on the nursing staff.
    Last edit by Susie2310 on Jan 4, '13
  6. 3
    Quote from heron

    Enough already with the sanctimonious preachingoop:.

    Yes, families of people who are hospitalized are under stress ... and this means that whatever dysfunctional dynamics they have going are magnified. It's not unusual for outsiders, like nurses, to be drawn into the drama, either as targets or unwitting co-conspirators.

    Such drama involves, almost by definition, the kind of major boundary violations we've seen described in this and many other threads.

    I think most of us can tell the difference between a family that is "scared and confused" and the kind of narcissistic, abusive behavior being addressed here. Apparently, you can't.

    There is no professional duty described in any nurse practice act anywhere that requires me to become a punching bag for any fool with an agenda.

    What I do have is a duty to provide safe, effective nursing care that preserves the dignity and privacy of all the people in my care ... you know, the people in the beds that are having to wait ... and wait ... and wait to have their needs met while their nurse is dealing with unnecessary nonsense.

    The ones who now have to deal with a nurse who is likely to have an attitude of her own because of having to suppress the very healthy anger that comes from being manipulated or abused.

    The ones whose privacy and dignity are being violated by the dysfunctional family's disrespect and intrusiveness.

    The ones who go hungry because some family came and cleaned out the kitchen ... who can't get healing rest because of the party next door and the children running wild in the halls.

    If you think I sound a bit testy, you would be right. I am so over being told that the only way to be a nurse is to not only allow whatever abuse comes my way, but to believe that it's justified.

    I neither know nor care what your experience is of health care. If you believe that nurses are obligated to commit emotional hara kiri, you are wrong and you need to go away. I'm not interested in your agenda.
    THIS and THIS and THIS!!!!!
    Irish_Mist, jrwest, and morte like this.
  7. 1
    Quote from courtneyfredrick
    It truly scares me to read the comments from some of these nurses. Bedside manner is dreadfully lacking these days by nurses and doctors. .......If you can't handle these situations with some sort of class and decorum, please leave the profession. I hear a lot of emotionally burnt-out nurses on this board. Get out of the profession. ......I've seen the inner workings of healthcare and those that provide it- Some are the best people on earth. Some are truly evil incarnate.
    I'm a little curious and am wondering what is your specialty or area of employment? Your only three posts all contain the theme "if you can't handle the families then find a different profession". A lot of families are truly scared and stressed but manage to behave in an acceptable manner. That doesn't excuse some of the outrageous behaviour nurses face at work every day from patients and/or families. I'm all for going the extra mile to help patients and families deal with what is going on but a little empathy for the nurse (or CNA) that was kicked, had a meal tray thrown at them, or was called vulgar names might be nice.
    Last edit by Silverlight2010 on Jan 4, '13 : Reason: clarification
    jrwest likes this.
  8. 2
    I think I should say that I, and everyone I work with, loves having family members at the bedside who are helpful to their loved one. We have heavy workloads and if you are there to help feed and wash, I thank you whole heartedly. Oh, she will get fed and washed without you, but her breakfast will be warm and the wash will happen sooner and I appreciate the help.

    I also realize families have questions and concerns, often asking the same things over again because it is a difficult road to navigate without the knowledge base behind it. I understand that. I will do my best to answer your questions or direct you to an information source which may he helpful. I'll facilitate setting up a family conference, if you'd like.

    I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'll only ask you to leave the room for a valid reason. Sometimes I do need to speak to my patient alone, and most often that is respected.

    Families ARE important and none of us doubt that.

    But families can be difficult, too. People can be difficult no matter what line of work you are in. Just because your loved one is ill does not give you the right to behave inappropriately. Just because I am a nurse does not mean I have to take that inappropriate behaviour, either.
    Blackcat99 and Silverlight2010 like this.
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    Quote from SaoirseRN
    I think I should say that I, and everyone I work with, loves having family members at the bedside who are helpful to their loved one. We have heavy workloads and if you are there to help feed and wash, I thank you whole heartedly. Oh, she will get fed and washed without you, but her breakfast will be warm and the wash will happen sooner and I appreciate the help.

    I also realize families have questions and concerns, often asking the same things over again because it is a difficult road to navigate without the knowledge base behind it. I understand that. I will do my best to answer your questions or direct you to an information source which may he helpful. I'll facilitate setting up a family conference, if you'd like.

    I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'll only ask you to leave the room for a valid reason. Sometimes I do need to speak to my patient alone, and most often that is respected.

    Families ARE important and none of us doubt that.

    But families can be difficult, too. People can be difficult no matter what line of work you are in. Just because your loved one is ill does not give you the right to behave inappropriately. Just because I am a nurse does not mean I have to take that inappropriate behaviour, either.
    Hear HEAR!!! Couldn't have said it better...what even happened to the GOLDEN rule???
  10. 0
    I was verbally attacked by a patient's family at LTC just last night. They were yelling at me, trying to get in a fight with me over medications etc etc etc. Their loved one had a fall and I was trying to focus on the patient you know like doing a" neurological assessment"? It made them even more angry that I was ignoring them for a minute and instead was focusing on doing my "neurological assessment." They were screaming at me "Look at me" while I was trying to focus and care for their loved one!!!!


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