I am curious, how do staff nurses handle angry families who are angry over the care of patient by both the nursing staff and medical staff? How do we as professionals handle the mental abuse that we get when the families are yelling that we don't know what we are doing and that we don't care. Is is right that we just stand there and take it? Are we supported by our administrators?
Jan 2, '08
by Altra, BSN, RN
Under no circumstances do I tolerate yelling for more than a few seconds. If a patient/family member cannot/will not self-correct and *use their indoor voice* I immediately ask them to do so as they are disturbing sick patients.
If the complaint is non-specific ("you people don't know what you're doing!") I ask the person speaking to clarify: "What aspect of care are you concerned about? What questions do you have for me?" And then I answer those questions, in detail, or offer to contact the physician. This gives patients/family members another chance to absorb information and regain their self-control.
I do not "stand there and take it." I am not mentally abused.
Patients/family members get upset and lose control for a thousand reasons, some of them justifiable, some not. Explanations go a long way, especially when you can pre-emptively advise them on how things are likely to go: "you'll be going for your CT scan as soon as the scanner is available. After that, you can expect it to be read by the radiologist within 90 minutes. If that scan is negative, the MD will be back in to speak with you about discharge."
Hope this helps.
Last edit by Altra on Jan 2, '08
Twice I have had experiences as the charge nurse where families were agitated about something and as I work night shift in a small hospital I had no administrative back up and no security to speak of. Not even a house supervisor. Called supervisors at home and they gave me the old "get a telephone number and we will deal with it in the morning."
So administration gets to go back to bed and go back to sleep and I get to go back into the lions den and get yelled at for another 30 minutes. :angryfire Can't walk away as I am the charge nurse. The one guy just followed me all over the department anyways. I made it through both incidences and after the second one I told my supervisor that I would not do it again. Next time, I call the police and have the angry offenders arrested and when that shift is over I find a lawyer to file a "hostile workplace" suit.
And I will repeat my plan to the next administrator who refuses to get up and handle their own administrative crisis and tells me to get a phone number for them.
Last edit by nurturing_angel on Jan 2, '08