I am struggling with patient families lately. - page 13

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. 1
    Quote from SaoirseRN
    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.

    No doubt. Just have to respectfully and kindly but firmly stand your ground and keep doing what is the priority. That's how nursing functions. Sounds like there needs to be a family meeting with manager, nurses, social worker, and these members. I'd take the time to write about the situation, and submit it to the NM. I'd also make a copy. I have just learned to do this over the years. Date and time it, and make copies. Also write the time it was submitted to the NM. Respectfully follow up with it by phone. Take a positive approach, but be as objective and professional as possible. If other nurses are experiencing this, see if they will do the same. If you don't get anything back from the NM, follow the chain.

    If it's not that big of a deal or interruptive to patient care and treatment, you also have to decide if you should just let it go. Choose battles very carefully.
    Blackcat99 likes this.
  2. 1
    Quote from Blackcat99
    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!!!!
    Again, that's inappropriate and you have to get the proper people involved, such as the supervisor, etc. Also, make it clear that you will not interact with them, short of an emergency, if they take that approach and tone.
    Blackcat99 likes this.
  3. 5
    I've been a working nurse for 30 years and have seen a huge change in how we're treated. Families used to be respectful for the most part and not want to bother the nurse. Now some families seem to think we are there to serve them. I completely understand their being stressed about their sick loved one, but screaming at me will not make that family member better. I recently had a family member scream at me in the hallway so loudly tahat the DPH surveyor who was in the building at the time stopped dead in his tracks.Because I've been doing this for 30 years and because I'm in charge of the building and because I knew she wouldn't just stop, I took her in an office, put my hand up, and told her I was not going to speak to her until she could be civil. I told her it was my job to make sure her dad got what he needed and I knew what it was like to have a sick parent. She calmed down, we chatted and all was well.Stressed or not, family members do not have the right to scream and yell at the nurses. And to the poster who said if we didn't like that kind of treatment we are in the wrong profession, I vehemently disagree. We are there to take care of your family member. Not to be verbal punching bags.
    Esme12, VickyRN, morte, and 2 others like this.
  4. 1
    Quote from samadams8

    No doubt. Just have to respectfully and kindly but firmly stand your ground and keep doing what is the priority. That's how nursing functions. Sounds like there needs to be a family meeting with manager, nurses, social worker, and these members. I'd take the time to write about the situation, and submit it to the NM. I'd also make a copy. I have just learned to do this over the years. Date and time it, and make copies. Also write the time it was submitted to the NM. Respectfully follow up with it by phone. Take a positive approach, but be as objective and professional as possible. If other nurses are experiencing this, see if they will do the same. If you don't get anything back from the NM, follow the chain.

    If it's not that big of a deal or interruptive to patient care and treatment, you also have to decide if you should just let it go. Choose battles very carefully.
    I chart EVERYTHING that could be a potential problem, so I have a good log of various interactions with this family that show a pattern. They complained vehemently to the day nurse about me, saying I was a terrible nurse (of course, their darling loved one was very thankful for the care I provided, but they didn't ask her) so I have spoken to my manager, if only to point her toward my charting and as a heads up. She is well aware of how this family can behave.
    Blackcat99 likes this.
  5. 1
    Quote from SaoirseRN
    I chart EVERYTHING that could be a potential problem, so I have a good log of various interactions with this family that show a pattern. They complained vehemently to the day nurse about me, saying I was a terrible nurse (of course, their darling loved one was very thankful for the care I provided, but they didn't ask her) so I have spoken to my manager, if only to point her toward my charting and as a heads up. She is well aware of how this family can behave.
    Well, if she doesn't get a meeting going, in the appropriate manner, then you and your colleagues may be forced to follow the chain of command. It's on her plate, and she is obligated to deal with it. If she doesn't, someone has to get things moving.

    I wish you the best. Sounds unnecessarily exhausting.
    Blackcat99 likes this.
  6. 3
    Quote from Susie2310
    I do not practice at the bedside,
    I'm sorry but if you don't work at the bedside in a hospital you really have no idea what it's like day in and day out for us nurses that ARE at the bedside. You've only seen your view as a patients family member, not as a nurse who deals with patients and their families yelling, throwing things, interrupting codes and procedures for things that can absolutely wait till we are free. So please don't act like you have any idea of what's going on in the hospital if you don't work there.
    Altra, uRNmyway, and monkeybug like this.
  7. 0
    Quote from SionainnRN
    I'm sorry but if you don't work at the bedside in a hospital you really have no idea what it's like day in and day out for us nurses that ARE at the bedside. You've only seen your view as a patients family member, not as a nurse who deals with patients and their families yelling, throwing things, interrupting codes and procedures for things that can absolutely wait till we are free. So please don't act like you have any idea of what's going on in the hospital if you don't work there.
    My dear, I've been an RN for 17 years. Because I do not currently work at the bedside certainly does not mean I have no idea what it's like day in and day out for nurses who are at the bedside. I never said I have no bedside experience. Sorry.
  8. 2
    Quote from Susie2310

    My dear, I've been an RN for 17 years. Because I do not currently work at the bedside certainly does not mean I have no idea what it's like day in and day out for nurses who are at the bedside. I never said I have no bedside experience. Sorry.
    Well you only said you did not work bedside, so I was to assume you had worked bedside at some point? And while you may have worked bedside in the past, as other nurses have pointed out, hospitals have turned into the customer is always right, bending over backwards to please pain in the ass families while throwing nurses under the bus.
    uRNmyway and morte like this.
  9. 0
    Quote from SionainnRN
    Well you only said you did not work bedside, so I was to assume you had worked bedside at some point? And while you may have worked bedside in the past, as other nurses have pointed out, hospitals have turned into the customer is always right, bending over backwards to please pain in the ass families while throwing nurses under the bus.
    From your own posts I understand you have been a nurse for a little over three years . . . Not exactly a historical perspective.
    Last edit by Susie2310 on Jan 5, '13
  10. 0
    Quote from Susie2310
    From your own posts I understand you have been a nurse for a little over three years . . . Not exactly a historical perspective.
    Which is why I said "as other nurses have pointed out...". And my three years as a nurse has been in a hospital at the bedside, and 8 years before that was as a medical receptionist in offices. Seeing as you aren't currently at the bedside and haven't been for...how long...I don't think you really understand what it's like in this day and age at the bedside.


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