My God, these family members!! - page 3

by SoundofMusic 50,761 Views | 235 Comments

They are just killing me. Why is it that so many of them feel so entitled to sit in their aging parents rooms and just boss us nurses to HELL and back, while they sit there, fully able to do much of what we're doing for their... Read More


  1. 19
    Quote from psalm
    ...what about setting limits? there are times when i have to tell a family member that i will get to a nonessential when i have the time. this is different from a needed prn med or treatment.

    we do not need to fetch all night long. set limits and then stick to them. i think we all have to have a night where we go thru it...trying to keep a family happy. but it isn't good nursing care, when the fam thinks they have to demand everything. i remind them that i have other patients and will be happy to come by after my assessments, etc are done, that i have the priorities for their mother's care on my schedule.
    i've gotten reprimanded for reminding patients/families that i have others to care for. it doesn't go along w/management's pov that each patient should be treated as if they are our only patient...god forbid they know that i have more on my plate than just their needs, and that i have to prioritize.

    my favorite was when my nm told me that i "could have handled it differently" when i had a patient complain b/c their pain meds were fifteen minutes late. my response to the patient: "i'm so sorry that it was delayed, we were coding a patient and all of the nurses were tied up in that room." nm's response: "that tells the patient that their pain was not the most important thing." well, pardon me, but it wasn't, and anyone with half a ml of common sense would understand that.

    we've got one now we can't get rid of. family thinks that there is something wrong, despite weeks of being in the hospital and all tests now being just peachy. doc won't discharge b/c family is threatening to go to the news station and complain about care if she is. then the family complains b/c we're drawing labs and the patient is a hard stick..."the doctor says there's nothing wrong, so why are you doing that?" arrrgh!!!!! unfortunately i'm one of the only ones who has been able to get her blood the last few times i've worked.

    i had one whose wife was so bad one time that i told the daughter "your mother has got to understand that her attitude and actions will eventually impact your father's care. i've been around for a while, i don't care if she's screaming at me, i'll still go in there and take care of your dad. but there are nurses who don't have as strong of a personality as i do, and who will be intimidated, and who will be unwilling to go into his room unless it is absolutely necessary." daughter apologized and went in and talked to mom, who toned it down a little bit. i was sure that i was going to get written up over that one, but the daughter seemed to realize how bad her mom was acting and didn't say anything to anyone, thank goodness.
  2. 31
    As a nurse, I have been on the "other side" when I spent one week in the hospital with my mom following heart surgery. I can say that I did way more than any family member should have been expected to do, and I did it because no one else was there to do it. She was having frequent, loose stools as a result of some of the meds (that I had to ask to get d/c-ed). Because she was post-CABG, it took her aome time to get to the edge of her chair, stand up, and walk to the BSC that I put as close as possible to her. She wasn't even able to wipe herself, as she was not to stretch her arm behind her, so I got to do that as well. If I had used the call light to ask for help with any of this, I know she would have soiled herself as we waited for the nurse or NA to arrive. No, I didn't mind, and we even joked about it just to get through it.

    On the other hand, I didn't like that I was *expected* to pretty much do her ADLs with her 24/7, because I was in the room with her for 24/7. Since I was the one doing the transfers from bed/BSC, chair/BSC and bed/chair, I was beat. Also, the heart monitor alarm kept me awake more than I wanted (hers, as well as the many at the station that was right outside of her room), so I was somewheat sleep deprived, and frankly wanted to rest a bit sometimes. While I wouldn't have minded giving her a bed bath or changing her linens, I did not feel like I had to be super nurse/daughter and do everything. When they handed me the bed bath items, I just asked when they were planning to do the bedbath. I had to be direct. (I honestly don't think that they really knew how much I really was doing when I didn't call anyone to help.)

    I came to be with her from 400 miles away, and did not know my way from her house to the hospital, so I wasn't able to leave for about a week. Also, it was snowing and freezing outside, so just leaving for a walk wasn't an option. I was told that they only had one rollaway bed, and that someone else was using it. I was there for a week, and really wonder if this highly respected and huge hospital in Pittsburgh really could only find one rollaway bed. So, I got to sleep in a recliner that didn't recline much at all, because cardiac patients can't recline in the recovery phase. So, I was sleep deprived, not sleeping well with nosie, and sleeping in a very uncomfortable position as a result of the chair that I was given to sleep in.

    To top this off, she began retaining water and I/O monitoring became very important. So, I started keeping track of it myself, as I knew everything that she put into her mouth. Dayshift asked for this information, but there were 2-3 nights where no vital signs were taken at 4am and no I/O were measured at the end of the shift. When the MD was perplexed about the I/O on the chart, I pulled out my list and told him that no on had asked for it on PM shift lately. My numbers were not anywhere near what was charted, and mom could have been treated earlier with Lasix and the resulting chest tube, had I/O been charted correctly.

    Another thing that I did was call the nurse in the middle of the night for the wheezing that mom was doing. When no one responded, I had to get up and go to the desk to ask them to get respiratory there STAT as whe was audibly wheezing and having trouble breathing. Again, regular shift rounds could have caught this, as you could have cracked the door and heard her wheezes.

    So, when I see a family member not directly aprticipating in the care of their loved one, I remember my mom's situation. It is my job to do for the patient, not the fmaily's. It is their choice if they want to help or not, unless the MD specifically writes an order for family to be doing certain interventions. Also, I have to remember that the family is often doing more than I'll ever know, and often they are exhausted and stressed, so I need to consider that.

    I think that we need to involve the family as much as they want to be involved, at a level that is consistent with the request of the patient, as some patients do not want a family member giving them a bath or doing personal care.

    Sorry for the long post, but I did learn alot about what family members go through by being there in those shoes myself. Big lesson learned for me that will always impact my future nursing care.
    AngelfireRN, Crux1024, DalmatiaRN, and 28 others like this.
  3. 7
    Quote from GotoGirlRN
    we were to provide customer service to the family members, because our patients weren't patients they were our "customers" FREAKIN glorified waitress is what I felt like!
    Ridiculous...customer service should be something you get at a restaurant or a hotel, NOT a hospital. :angryfire
    doesn't it just drive you nuts?? We can thank our "wonderful" hospital admins for it!
    sevensonnets, ShifraPuah, nrsang97, and 4 others like this.
  4. 22
    Quote from Penguin67
    As a nurse, I have been on the "other side" when I spent one week in the hospital with my mom following heart surgery. I can say that I did way more than any family member should have been expected to do, and I did it because no one else was there to do it. She was having frequent, loose stools as a result of some of the meds (that I had to ask to get d/c-ed). Because she was post-CABG, it took her aome time to get to the edge of her chair, stand up, and walk to the BSC that I put as close as possible to her. She wasn't even able to wipe herself, as she was not to stretch her arm behind her, so I got to do that as well. If I had used the call light to ask for help with any of this, I know she would have soiled herself as we waited for the nurse or NA to arrive. No, I didn't mind, and we even joked about it just to get through it.

    On the other hand, I didn't like that I was *expected* to pretty much do her ADLs with her 24/7, because I was in the room with her for 24/7. Since I was the one doing the transfers from bed/BSC, chair/BSC and bed/chair, I was beat. Also, the heart monitor alarm kept me awake more than I wanted (hers, as well as the many at the station that was right outside of her room), so I was somewheat sleep deprived, and frankly wanted to rest a bit sometimes. While I wouldn't have minded giving her a bed bath or changing her linens, I did not feel like I had to be super nurse/daughter and do everything. When they handed me the bed bath items, I just asked when they were planning to do the bedbath. I had to be direct. (I honestly don't think that they really knew how much I really was doing when I didn't call anyone to help.)

    I came to be with her from 400 miles away, and did not know my way from her house to the hospital, so I wasn't able to leave for about a week. Also, it was snowing and freezing outside, so just leaving for a walk wasn't an option. I was told that they only had one rollaway bed, and that someone else was using it. I was there for a week, and really wonder if this highly respected and huge hospital in Pittsburgh really could only find one rollaway bed. So, I got to sleep in a recliner that didn't recline much at all, because cardiac patients can't recline in the recovery phase. So, I was sleep deprived, not sleeping well with nosie, and sleeping in a very uncomfortable position as a result of the chair that I was given to sleep in.

    To top this off, she began retaining water and I/O monitoring became very important. So, I started keeping track of it myself, as I knew everything that she put into her mouth. Dayshift asked for this information, but there were 2-3 nights where no vital signs were taken at 4am and no I/O were measured at the end of the shift. When the MD was perplexed about the I/O on the chart, I pulled out my list and told him that no on had asked for it on PM shift lately. My numbers were not anywhere near what was charted, and mom could have been treated earlier with Lasix and the resulting chest tube, had I/O been charted correctly.

    Another thing that I did was call the nurse in the middle of the night for the wheezing that mom was doing. When no one responded, I had to get up and go to the desk to ask them to get respiratory there STAT as whe was audibly wheezing and having trouble breathing. Again, regular shift rounds could have caught this, as you could have cracked the door and heard her wheezes.

    So, when I see a family member not directly aprticipating in the care of their loved one, I remember my mom's situation. It is my job to do for the patient, not the fmaily's. It is their choice if they want to help or not, unless the MD specifically writes an order for family to be doing certain interventions. Also, I have to remember that the family is often doing more than I'll ever know, and often they are exhausted and stressed, so I need to consider that.

    I think that we need to involve the family as much as they want to be involved, at a level that is consistent with the request of the patient, as some patients do not want a family member giving them a bath or doing personal care.

    Sorry for the long post, but I did learn alot about what family members go through by being there in those shoes myself. Big lesson learned for me that will always impact my future nursing care.
    I don't think anyone is complaining about family members who don't provide nursing care. Most of the gripes are about families with unrealistic expectations who are on the bell for the nurse to wait on THEM too.
  5. 19
    we all just got lectured about "customer service" because the patient satisfaction scores are down a bit. sometimes i wonder if my NM remembers what it was like to be a staff nurse, have 7 to 8 patients on tele with drips going, and have family members bombarding you the second your rear end hits the chair to finally do your chart checks, because you're sitting there doing "nothing".

    every time my family members are in the hospital, if i'm there, i help out however i can. if i'm sitting there watching TV, and my nana has to go potty, i know good and well i can help her walk to the bathroom and not put the call light on. my arms and legs are not broken.

    what really drives me batty is when you have a family having a big old party with buckets of food and making all kinds of noise and taking chairs from other rooms to fill up the half of the private room they are in, and out of 10 of them, not one can feed grandma? not one person can pull up her blanket? and when you answer the call bell, the bed is so crowded around with people, you can't get to the pt, and then they snort at you like you're in THEIR way when you try to manuever yourself around to get to the bedside.
  6. 4
    I love when family members assist with their loved in meeting some of their needs. I do not expect them to do everything, but then again neither do I expect the loved to stay 24 /7 either, unless it is a pediatric patient there really is no need for it. First off family sleep better away from the hospital as most hospitals are not set up for 24 hour guests. I also try and tell family, now is the time for you to get your rest as your loved one is being taken care, once they are home is when they will need you 24/7 not now. Most families are relieved to hear this and do take the time to be away and do the things they need to do such as have a fun day, or rest taking a day off from the long hours they keep in the hospital.
    philanurse74, nrsang97, Hekate, and 1 other like this.
  7. 4
    I hear you.
    I work weekend days when all the close and distant relatives can come visit.
    Thankfully nurses do have some control over visitors in ICU and there is no food(except for some cans of tube feed) to fetch and carry.
    The families described, I know well. Families who are that needy when their loved ones are in ICU are a terror for floor nurses.
    sevensonnets, ShifraPuah, dhinson45, and 1 other like this.
  8. 5
    I understand your frustration. As many posters have already articulated, we as nursing professionals often need to go out of our way to demand the respect that other healthcare professionals routinely receive.

    If a family member wants a private duty nurse, give him or her the telephone book and tell them there are many fine agencies who provide them with one for a cost. I actually had a manager do this, and it worked! It was great for the morale of the nursing staff as well, because it was made clear that disrespectful behavior toward nurses would not be tolerated.
  9. 12
    this reminds me of a phrase i have used many times..."i'm not here to kiss your a$$...i'm here to save it"...i think we should bottle up this thread and pass it out in each admission pack....
  10. 0
    I do have to say that I haven't had a loved one in the hospital since I was a child, but if I hadn't read this thread I wouldn't have known family members could do anything. In the LTC where I work the CNAs have to do everything. If we let the family feed, transfer, or toilet someone we would get in trouble. They're not supposed to go in the kitchen either. We even had one girl who came in with private caregivers to sit with her. At home they did everything for this girl but at our facility they had to just sit there and ring the call bell because they weren't "signed off" to do anything. I guess it's a liability issue.


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