Incredibly rude and disrespectful patients and/or their family members

  1. 1 How do you handle them?
    I am a fairly new nurse (1.5yrs) and brand new to the hospital setting. I previously worked in a clinic and spent very little time with my patients. I was with a doctor at all times so if a patient was mad, upset or angry they would always take it out on the Dr. Well, now I work full time days in a short term acute care rehab hospital. I love my job, my fellow nurses and the hospital I work at. I have one problem though, I am struggling with incredibly rude and disrespectful patients and/or their family members. No one says "please" or "thank you" and they order me around like I am scum of the earth. I get yelled at all day long by patients and families about stupid things that I cannot control! I get blamed for everything, ordered around and feel like I constantly have to walk on egg shells due to the fact I am afraid the pt or family with complain about me. The other day, a man rang the bell and when I came in to see what he needed, he screamed "turn my light off"! I simply told him I would turn his light off if he would say "please". When I turned around to look at him, he threw his urinal (filled with urine) at me and screamed again for me to turn off his light. As I walked to the break room to change my scrubs I asked myself how long I will be able to handle this. How do you handle patients and families who treat you like this? My supervisor told me when patients or their family members get out of control to "kill them with kindness". I really try not to let things that people say/do get to me however I have always been that person who takes everything to heart. When I bust my butt all day long to help these people and nothing is ever good enough, it gets pretty discouraging.
    Thanks
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  3. Visit  lalexa15 profile page

    About lalexa15

    lalexa15 has '1' year(s) of experience. From 'South Florida'; Joined Jun '10; Posts: 29; Likes: 4.

    32 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  lilaclover6984 profile page
    0
    Can't really offer you any advice because I am feeling the same way. I just don't understand how people can be so horrible.
  5. Visit  HappyWife77 profile page
    3
    That is battery. He physically threw something at you. Somedays are better than others that's for sure.
    canoehead, NurseDirtyBird, and noyesno like this.
  6. Visit  SwansonRN profile page
    8
    How would I deal with that patient? By calling security. That's battery and, under the right circumstances, something you can press charges for

    If your my patient I will bend over backwards for you, but once that line is crossed, that's it. I don't take abuse.
  7. Visit  SummitRN profile page
    7
    Assuming it wasn't altered mental status, that urine tossing patient would have had their next conversation with the police at the hospital and would have received either a ticket or a summons, and management would have had my back too.

    Short of that, the charge RN, the police, and sometimes even the MD are happy to join me in a group reading of the riot act (third strike) to patients who aren't receptive to the first discussion I call "the benefits of mutual respect" and second which I call "the easy way and the hard way to make sure you receive excellent care."
    Kitty-RN, Fiona59, Altra, and 4 others like this.
  8. Visit  KelRN215 profile page
    13
    I would have just turned the light off. I don't really care if people say please or thank you.
    ShelbyaStar, Mulan, RNInterupted, and 10 others like this.
  9. Visit  LadyFree28 profile page
    4
    Quote from SummitRN
    Assuming it wasn't altered mental status, that urine tossing patient would have had their next conversation with the police at the hospital and would have received either a ticket or a summons, and management would have had my back too. Short of that, the charge RN, the police, and sometimes even the MD are happy to join me in a group reading of the riot act (third strike) to patients who aren't receptive to the first discussion I call "the benefits of mutual respect" and second which I call "the easy way and the hard way to make sure you receive excellent care."
    THIS....

    Like another poster said, I don't take abuse.

    I have called security on patients and families; pt satisfaction goes out the window with me; I don't care about that...
    RNInterupted, loriangel14, serenity1, and 1 other like this.
  10. Visit  HappyWife77 profile page
    9
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    MauraRN, NutmeggeRN, NurseKatie08, and 6 others like this.
  11. Visit  VANurse2010 profile page
    2
    I don't care about please and thank you. I'm more about tone and not riding the call bell.
    NutmeggeRN and RNInterupted like this.
  12. Visit  0.adamantite profile page
    2
    I would have called security if I had a urinal thrown at me, and gotten my charge/management involved. That being said, I work with a population of patients who are very similar to this man on a daily basis. Sometimes going in, getting what you need to do done, and getting out of there are all you can manage. I had one patient yell at me that I was disturbing him while trying to do his assessment and vital signs. I stated to him, "I need you to be clear with me. Are you refusing your vital signs and assessment?" and he said "yes," and, "Is there a better time?" and he said "NO." then I went on my merry way and documented. I treat them the same as my other patients, but I don't expect much from them. I would have shut the light off and left and not tried to argue. You can't change some people.
    RNInterupted and loriangel14 like this.
  13. Visit  GrnTea profile page
    9
    Stop being afraid and grow a backbone. I mean it. If you won't stand up for yourself you might as well put a great big "HIT ME" sign on the back of your scrubs. Act like a professional who values her strength and education and you'll get more respect. Respect has to be earned with some folks. You just met one.

    If all the nurses on your unit get treated like this, then you all need to go to your management and get some serious changes made in the unit culture, and these changes may begin with security but may also extend to finding out why so many patients have such anger issues. Remember that almost universally, anger comes from fear. Think about what they are afraid of and you'll have a better handle in how to manage it as a staff. Behavior mod can work wonders if evenly and consistently applied. A consult with the psych nurse specialist could give you all some better tools.

    If it's just you, though, then you need to look within and see why you are afraid and why you won't stand up for yourself and get help from your management and peers. That should be your first stop, not venting to an online forum. But since you're here, there's your free advice. Good luck! Let us know what you do next!
    Sun0408, Hygiene Queen, canoehead, and 6 others like this.
  14. Visit  NicuGal profile page
    3
    What GrnTea said. Once they start throwing things, especially any body fluids, or are threatening in anyway, upper management needs to be notified and security called and at least given a heads up. We recently had a set if parents we felt threatened by ( talking crazy) and they had to have security come with them when they visited.

    We don't get paid enough for that!
  15. Visit  JBudd profile page
    1
    Ditto to Greentea and NICU; don't put up with that "excrement".

    What I would have done with that comment though, is smile, turn around while saying "the key word here is please" and turn off the light as I left.
    SoldierNurse22 likes this.


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