I am struggling with patient families lately. - page 7

by jennilynn 17,407 Views | 146 Comments

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
    Quote from sixela21
    Why should the family have to meet any expectations of yours??? YOU are the nurse. YOU work for the hospital. Yes, as a nurse, YOU are "expected" to be "on top of" matters regarding the patient. The expectations rightfully belong to them and the patient. Their loved ones' care is in YOUR hands.
    You misread or misunderstood what I am saying. And I completely understand MY role as a nurse pertaining to family memebers. I was speaking of the demanding family members with no boundaries. If a family member comes to me waving their POA paperwork and asks me to sit down and review meds and labs results and other imporant information with them and I DO. I go thru the chart, I explain things in non medical terms and give them whatever information and peace of mind they are looking for. I even offer to write things down for them so they relay CORRECT information to other family members. I expect this as a big part of nursing. BUT I do not expect them to come back to me THE NEXT DAY and ask for the EXACT SAME INFORMATION again because they "forgot". I can not tell you how many times I am pulled away from other pts because of this. SO YES I EXPECT THEM once they are educated and given the information they ask for TO STAY ON TOP IT.
  2. 1
    Quote from DoeRN

    You were written up because you caught a patient in a "compromising position" or having sex in the hospital. They complained because you interrupted them having sex and you got in trouble? Did the patient warn you that she was going to be having sex and not disturb her?

    I can't wait to leave this field. As a matter of fact I'm going to apply for school over the weekend. I wanted to start in March/April for an online program. I need to do it ASAP. Sorry you were written up over some BS.
    This may sound like a dumb question, but do hospitals have policies about this these days? I'm a bit out of the loop, being only faculty. The reason I ask, is because (just like in the academic/nursing school setting), if it is not a specific policy, people will say they didn't know they couldn't do it.

    Being a Peds nurse has helped me a great deal in dealing with families. They are there 95% of the time. You just get so used to it. My students freak out when parents are around. If you make them part of the solution, not part of the problem, you get results. Not always fool proof, of course, and it doesn't always easily translate to adult nursing (esp med/surg, where the ratios are higher, and you don't have the time to schmooze).

    And with Peds, you KNOW the family members know the patient, unlike some adult situations, where mama is in a nursing home, and they have no clue what her routine is like. The best "family members" are the caregivers (HHA, private aide, the "girl" who takes care of me), that really know the patient. We had one in clinical recently (with a patient I assigned to a student), who got stuff done! The students were impressed. These situations are few and far between, but are great to see.
    GilConRN likes this.
  3. 4
    Quote from sixela21
    Why should the family have to meet any expectations of yours??? YOU are the nurse. YOU work for the hospital. Yes, as a nurse, YOU are "expected" to be "on top of" matters regarding the patient. The expectations rightfully belong to them and the patient. Their loved ones' care is in YOUR hands.
    I also have to add that yes family members will have expectations on them and yes they will be expected to meet them. If you are a student or new to nursing then they are situations you have not encountered yet as a staff nurse. And If I misread your profile I apologize. But in my nursing career I have had family members do unspeakable things and I am constantly amazed by what they seem to feel is ok to say and do. I will give you an example of MY EXPECTATIONS of appropriate boundaries that I have for family members....

    I was sitting in a room with a pt that was in the end stages of life, he was actively dying and he was alone. He had no family to be there with him. I took 10 minutes of my time to sit with him, provide mouth care, reposition him for comfort and hold his hand and let him know he was not alone. I then had a family member knock on the open door of the his room and step in and pull the privacy curtain back to speak to me and ask "how much longer are you going to be just sitting here, I have a 2:00 haircut appt and I need to talk to you about my moms dinner menu before I leave".

    The expectation DID NOT rightfully belong to her....
    nursej22, ~*Stargazer*~, jrwest, and 1 other like this.
  4. 1
    I am currently still a nursing student (done in July whoot!!), & I work as a secretary in an ICU. I don't have patient care, but I do a lot in terms of communicating with their family. I have heard many times from the nurses "I would love my job if it weren't for the families."
    That truly sucks, because I think sometimes we forget that this might be our everyday routine, etc, these people are out of their comfort zone, they're scared, & they don't know what's going on (of course, I am referring to extreme cases....which we get a lot). It is our jobs to make sure the patients are comfortable, & I have gone above & beyond for family members, but there are definitely LIMITS, & I wish that more people would understand that a nurses' job description does not include "Your Personal *****" in it.
    nursej22 likes this.
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    I'm well known throughout the ED, Rads and neuro departments after over 30 presentations in 14mths my mum has only ever kicked up once about the care I was given as a patient and being a RN she went straight to the CN and said she wanted me to have a different nurse immediately.

    Due to post puncture headaches and a dural tear I couldn't stand, sit or be vertical so I never had a shower, basin wash or bed change unless mum or dad came to visit, never mind I had severe shakes after going to the toilet due to pain.....
  6. 1
    Kudos to all those caring family members who spend long hours at nana's bedside, helping with cares, asking pertinent questions and comforting your loved ones. It is not easy. I've been there with my family and will continue to be there when needed. However stressed I have been as a visitor(even when my mother died unexpectedly), I have never felt the need to assault the staff, steal other patients' food, or vandalize a waiting room.
    I feel like I have a lot of compassion for families. And sometimes I urge them to leave and take care of themselves. Yeah, it sucks that we have to wake people for vitals, meds, treatments. I do try to group tasks to provide uninterrupted rest. I don't how many times I have promised my patient a nap and before I can post a do not disturb sign a huge group of well-meaning folks barge in with take-out and settle in.
    My employer is very strict about food, supplies and linen usage not to mention how much time I can spend at the bedside. I have 4-5 patients no matter how sick they are. That means I have 12-15 minutes per patient per hour. For every action I perform at the bedside, I use at least that much time out of the room gathering, double-checking, documenting and communicating with others(MDs,therapists, pharm. dietary). So really I have 5-7 minutes to spend with your loved one and you each hour. This is the reality of healthcare. I don't like anymore than you do.
    I try my darnedest to be pleasant, professional and compassionate. But sometimes I'm feeling stressed, my feet hurt, my bladder is bursting and I'm hungry.
    I am human, just like you.
    ~*Stargazer*~ likes this.
  7. 2
    Quote from sixela21
    Why should the family have to meet any expectations of yours??? YOU are the nurse. YOU work for the hospital. Yes, as a nurse, YOU are "expected" to be "on top of" matters regarding the patient. The expectations rightfully belong to them and the patient. Their loved ones' care is in YOUR hands.
    sixela21- For someone that is just starting nursing school, you are really opinionated. I am also a student in a BSN program at USF here in Florida. BUT I do not assume to know what it is like to deal with unruly families. I have seen them in the hospital and it can really be over the top. I have seen RN's called the "N" word, urinals thrown at them and people that are "in the medical field" (i.e., work the front desk at a Dr's office or a CNA) demand care for a loved one that is inappropriate and even harmful. This board is a place for nurses to vent, which is what they are doing. They are dedicated to the care of their patients and it is understandable that when a person gets in the way of that care that they become upset. So your comment of "
    To put it very bluntly--
    Suck it up and do what you were trained! Let's love those patients and their families! =)"....

    Is totally uncalled for! There is a big difference between upsetting a parent because little Johnny is doing poorly and having a family member get in the way of the care that a patient needs. From what I have seen on this board, the nurses here are VERY qualified and do what they are trained for. However, you have made your comments and it will be all too funny in the coming months to see you start a post about being kicked out of a patients room or having a spouse call you every name in the book, just for doing your job.

    Good luck in nursing school! Hopefully you tone down the high and mighty thing during clinicals or your preceptors will have a field day with you.
    monkeybug and applewhitern like this.
  8. 4
    I'm amazed at how many nurses and nursing students posted nasty comments to the nurse who was venting about having to deal with inconsiderate and inappropriate family members. Many of those posts were accusatory and confrontational.

    I'm amazed at how many of you assume that any nurse who has difficulties with family members is somehow lacking empathy, lacking compassion or nursing skill or simply has never had a sick relative.

    I've had sick relatives in the hospital quite frequently in the last few years. I've been a patient myself. I've been under considerable stress and anxiety worrying about my own health and the health of my family members but have somehow never felt the need to reduce my anxiety by verbally or physically abusing the staff, interfering with the care of a patient -- whether it be my own care, the care of my family member or another patient, or by sucking up all the supplies, snacks and time of the staff. There are standards of behavior for civilized persons, and I work very hard, no matter how upset I am, to stay within the boundaries.

    Most of the nurses who vent on this board are caring, knowledgeable and compassionate and do not need to be "educated" -- especially by folks who have never walked in their shoes -- about dealing with over the top familes. They just need to vent. I appreciate that. I've dealt with some difficult families myself. It seems that people are, in general, becoming ruder and more self-involved. Even, sad to say, some of the posters here.
    GrnTea, Rose_Queen, ~*Stargazer*~, and 1 other like this.
  9. 4
    Some family members are just royal pains in the ass, and that's the truth!
    morte, applewhitern, jrwest, and 1 other like this.
  10. 2
    If the patient does not request that the family leave the room for a certain procedure, why should their very presence bother you so much unless it is directly against some sort of hospital policy? (Unless, like I said previously, they are making smart remarks or directly interfering with your care).
    Patients do not always ask family to leave because they don't want to hurt their feelings, so we, as nurses have to advocate for them.I had aan alert and oriented cardiac cath pt so I was in the room a lot for four hours. No less than three, and sometimes six family members camped bedside, complete with two computers charging up. The pt also had a neuro disorder that required assistance with his urinal. Every time he needed to urinate, I had to ask all family to leave. Every time. Who the hell pees with family members around? Apparently they thought hospitalized Dad wouldn't mind? The last time that shift, the daughter refused to leave. I pushed the issue. I then looked at the patient, who had a pained expression, and he said, "It's ok." I covered him up as much as possible and helped him urinate. I pushed one more time, saying, "I think he's uncomfortable with this." The reply? "I'm not looking." Seriously?I adored that patient, and he gave me a hug when the shift was over. The family? Not so much.Nurses are not the enemy here.
    jrwest and ~*Stargazer*~ like this.


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