I am struggling with patient families lately. - page 8

by jennilynn

17,155 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. 2
    Well said, Ruby Vee. It's true that anyone who has been nursing for any length of time is well aware that families can be both your greatest allies and your greatest hindrances in providing the best possible nursing care, and does not need a lecture on that. It can so easily go either way, and when it goes bad, it is not always due to a lack of empathy or education on the nurse's part.

    Now granted, I do believe people when they say they have witnessed near misses or mistakes or even just plain old non empathetic behavior on the part of nurses toward their loved one. I, however, am guilty of none of those things. I can look at myself in the mirror and know with every cell of my being that I am not "that nurse", and it grows wearisome at times dealing with the fallout from that and having to "prove" myself.

    Fortunately for me, I am able to engender trust, but that doesn't mean I don't ever feel exhausted from the effort and need to vent. Perhaps we can give the OP the benefit of the doubt?
    PalmHarborMom and jennilynn like this.
  2. 6
    Thank you ruby and palmharbormom and all the other posters who do not think I am a horrible nurse for being annoyed with visitors.
    I do believe that I stated enough times that I think that visitors are a beneficial part of recovery.
    I can tell you that I am a damn good nurse and would never give my patients (or their families) any less care than I would give my own family.
    I came here to vent, not be judged and told that maybe I need to find another line of work.

    As for sixela21, I hope that nursing school and your subsequent nursing career is all rainbows and butterflies. But, truthfully, I'll be waiting for the day that you post your own "venting" thread.
    icuRNmaggie, monkeybug, JBudd, and 3 others like this.
  3. 4
    Years ago, I read a venting post from a nurse who was frustrated because she had a patient who was fixing to die, and 16 family members were standing around the bed with another 20 or so outside the room, all wailing loudly and screaming in Spanish. The family was so loud that other patients were having difficulty resting and their families were approaching the nursing staff trying to get them to "quiet those people down." The patient died, and the noise escalated while some family members began throwing themselves on the floor to kick and scream, flinging themselves into each other's arms and the arms of innocent passers by and tearing at their hair and garments. The OP was venting because all of the other patients on the unit were suffering through this family's protestations of grief.

    I could not believe how many posters wrote in, excoriating the OP for her lack of compassion for the grieving family and telling her that "it's their culture" and "you need to learn to be more tolerant of other cultures" or "you need to find some compassion or find a new job." When I did a little investigation, I found that most of those posters were brand new nurses, student nurses, or wannabes.

    Sadly, people with very little experience or NO experience, still feel that they know better than we do how to do our jobs; and the very people who are excoriating us for our perceived "lack of compassion" show very little compassion for us, their colleagues or future colleagues. It's very hard to teach someone who already thinks they know everything; we just have to wait until those posters accumulate a little experience of their own and start to "get it."

    Meanwhile, my take on visitors is pretty simple: visiting is a privelege, not a right. If you're not following the rules, if you're hindering the patient's care, getting in the way or making a pest of yourself you clearly do not deserve the priveledge of visiting. I wish more nurses felt that way.
    monkeybug, GrnTea, jrwest, and 1 other like this.
  4. 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.
    Here is a situation for you since we are to please the family.

    You get report and you have a patient that isn't doing so well. Her sats are dropping and she wasn't like this last night when you had her. You have another patient in a lot of pain with a really anxious husband. Your in the patient's room who's 02 says are dropping. She stops breathing and there is no pulse.

    In the meantime the anxious husband is at the desk complaining about his wife's pain and the fact that the nurse hasn't been in the room. The charge nurse has a full assignment but agrees to look at the MAR to see when she can have pain meds. All of a sudden the code bell goes off. The charge nurse runs to get the crash cart. The anxious husband jumps in front of the crash cart and stops it. He is demanding that the charge nurse gives his wife pain medicine before she runs into the code room. What would you as a nurse do? Please the family because that is your job? Or do you tell him to move out of the way and save the dead patient who is a full code life?
    Last edit by DoeRN on Dec 30, '12
  5. 0
    The above is a extreme example, but I think it illustrates the point that OP was making. In that case, no, I'm sorry that the man's wife is having pain, and normally I would be right on that, but right now my other patient is the priority and I will not stop and appease this husband, nor should I expect another nurse to do so either.

    I will certainly speak with him after and explain, whether he is receptive or not, but in the moment he is in the wrong because he is not only keeping me from doing my job, but endangering the life of another patient. Pain is not ideal, but death is less so.

    (I am in other words supporting the above poster's comments)
  6. 2
    Quote from DoeRN
    Here is a situation for you since we are to please the family.

    You get report and you have a patient that isn't doing so well. Her sats are dropping and she wasn't like this last night when you had her. You have another patient in a lot of pain with a really anxious husband. Your in the patient's room who's 02 says are dropping. She stops breathing and there is no pulse.

    In the meantime the anxious husband is at the desk complaining about his wife's pain and the fact that the nurse hasn't been in the room. The charge nurse has a full assignment but agrees to look at the MAR to see when she can have pain meds. All of a sudden the code bell goes off. The charge nurse runs to get the crash cart. The anxious husband jumps in front of the crash cart and stops it. He is demanding that the charge nurse gives his wife pain medicine before she runs into the code room. What would you as a nurse do? Please the family because that is your job? Or do you tell him to move out of the way and save the dead patient who is a full code life?
    This is NOT an extreme example! not to mention it is becoming more and more common with the ME ME ME mentality of entitlement.

    Sure, after all is said and done, and they fill out their press ganey, who do you think is going to give the bad review- the dead pt, or the ****** who said no one was paying attention to his family member???Press Ganey does not take into account what you were doing at the time.
    That is what this is all about. If hospitals are going to continue to reward and coddle the most obnoxious- this stuff is only going to GET WORSE.
    What part of "the customer is always right" are some of you not hearing??

    Oh, and yes, of course I would attend to the code first. But I would also expect to hear in the next month that "our scores are dismal" and we are all going to get spanked for it.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Jan 3, '13 : Reason: TOS/progamoty/the use of letters and symbols
    monkeybug and applewhitern like this.
  7. 3
    Quote from jrwest

    This is NOT an extreme example! not to mention it is becoming more and more common with the ME ME ME mentality of entitlement.

    Sure, after all is said and done, and they fill out their press ganey, who do you think is going to give the bad review- the dead pt, or the a$#@$ who said no one was paying attention to his family member???Press Ganey does not take into account what you were doing at the time.
    That is what this is all about. If hospitals are going to continue to reward and coddle the most obnoxious- this stuff is only going to GET WORSE.
    What part of "the customer is always right" are some of you not hearing??

    Oh, and yes, of course I would attend to the code first. But I would also expect to hear in the next month that "our scores are dismal" and we are all going to get spanked for it.
    It's posts like these that make me glad I work in Canada. We still get the ME ME ME ME crap, but we are not expected to take it just to make people happy. Come work up here, nurses!
    Esme12, Silverlight2010, and jrwest like this.
  8. 0
    Quote from Ruby Vee
    Meanwhile, my take on visitors is pretty simple: visiting is a privelege, not a right. If you're not following the rules, if you're hindering the patient's care, getting in the way or making a pest of yourself you clearly do not deserve the priveledge of visiting. I wish more nurses felt that way.
    I wish more corporations, I mean hospitals, felt that way
  9. 2
    DoeRN's example isn't too far off the mark. Although I've never experienced that exact situation, I have had family members come out of the room to request another pillow or warm blanket as I'm zipping down the hallway loaded down with pumps, fluids and meds for a patient who is crashing, only to get a nasty look or comment when I tell them I will get to it when I can. I had a guy with dental pain repeatedly coming out of his room to complain about the wait, while the doctor was in coding an infant. I've had family members get angry with me because I won't feed their pre-op loved one, even though I've patiently explained why they cannot eat.

    It's true that people can be blatantly self centered and unconcerned about what else might be going on that just might be more important than a cup of coffee, a soda, or an extra pillow. When you are exposed to that again and again day in and day out, it does affect your attitude. When I worked in the ED, there were days when I wanted to get rid of the blanket warmers and pillows completely.

    I'd also like to point out that the "Patient's Bill of Rights" also includes Patient Responsibilities, and most consent forms include a section that states that the patient is aware of their Rights and Responsibilities; when they sign consent for treatment, they are also signing that they are aware of these.
    Esme12 and jrwest like this.
  10. 3
    I met a brand new nurse tonight who views Press-Gainey as the answer to all of nursing's ills. I told her I thought Press-Gainey was Satan incarnate. She's no longer speaking to me. Now where is the butter an salt? I'd love to chomp on that young'un.
    Silverlight2010, monkeybug, and jrwest like this.


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