Rude patients or family members

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    Hey guys.

    I always wonder how would you handle a rude patient or a family member who think they know everything and are just being bossy. Some of your stories showed really unbearable comments and demands from rude pts and their family.

    How do you put them in their place in a polite way?? I am just curious, I'll be an RN next year and wanted your experience on that.
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    It depends on the situation, IMO, but it helps to have a sense of humor.

    If they are screaming and yelling, speak in a low quiet voice and ask the person to calm down. It helps to acknowledge their feelings "You seem anxious about something". Then ask how the situation can be made better for them, and if it's reasonable, try to accomodate.

    Threatening staff is never appropriate. That gets security called. Or the police.

    It helps also to remember that the patient and family are under a great deal of anxiety. They may not be at their finest moment and just terrified of what has happened, is going to happen, or that they will lose they family member.

    Experience helps too. Try not to take it personally and see it from the family's POV, and it will help you to diffuse the situation and use your therapeutic communication skills much more effectively.
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    Quote from RN06-NP09
    Hey guys.

    I always wonder how would you handle a rude patient or a family member who think they know everything and are just being bossy. Some of your stories showed really unbearable comments and demands from rude pts and their family.

    How do you put them in their place in a polite way?? I am just curious, I'll be an RN next year and wanted your experience on that.

    I have dealt with this as a CNA, and it is very frustrating! Several days ago, a family member came into the patient's room in a rush, took over feeding the patient, and then reported to the charge nurse that I was being "snotty" to her moments earlier, but says she wasn't surprised because I was just as snotty to her the day before....I hadn't even spoke to this family member the day before! The nurse just politely listened, apologized for any upset that it may have caused, and told her that it was okay to let us know how she was feeling during this emotional time. This didn't support my feelings much at all but it did calm the family member down. The family and patient is always to come first....but boy did I take that accusation personally!
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    Yes humor helps a ton, but so does the acknowledgement of their feelings! I get myself positioned in a seated position so I am not standing up in an authoritative posture so they don't feel defensive and talk it out with them. TAKES FOREVER this way...but about the only way they will see you as a caring professional. Also never every say 'I don't know' to anything...say something like "I will check into that" or "I will give you the number for their physician so you may discuss this with the Doctor who can explain this better than I".

    I deal with A LOT of this. I work in assisted living, and usually it is a dumping ground for families to send Grandma/Grandpa instead of going to a stated "nursing home" (somehow the words assisted living sting less than 'nursing home'...a comercial tactic). They leave them there thinking all will be fine, then when they get ill..they come in to visit and be overbearing with staff as a compensation mechinism for leaving them there, and the anger and guilt they feel...putting Nurses and staff down makes many family feel more in control (which is usually the probelm) and more important...it is daily with my facility!

    I acknowledge and thank them for their help in the Team of people helping grandma/pa and try to put them into the perspective of being part of a TEAM with the same GOALS as myself and others. And ask for constructive proactive INPUT! That usually helps, and using funny quotes from a patient to show I do know them personally gets everyone laughing and seeing me as someone that cares!

    If that doesn't work and they are beyond talking to, and disrupting my residents and staff..they are asked to leave or forced to by police (which has happened 2 times). Physical anything is instant 9-11!!!!!!!

    Hope this helps. Validation of concerns by family is usually the culprit...use this as a tool to guide you when you come up to these situations and be compassionate about it...it effects your patients 10's more than you think!
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    Quote from don_rhonda
    I have dealt with this as a CNA, and it is very frustrating! Several days ago, a family member came into the patient's room in a rush, took over feeding the patient, and then reported to the charge nurse that I was being "snotty" to her moments earlier, but says she wasn't surprised because I was just as snotty to her the day before....I hadn't even spoke to this family member the day before! The nurse just politely listened, apologized for any upset that it may have caused, and told her that it was okay to let us know how she was feeling during this emotional time. This didn't support my feelings much at all but it did calm the family member down. The family and patient is always to come first....but boy did I take that accusation personally!

    Ahhhhh yes, the old patient is always right deal...it is in such an upswing for managerial tactics lately...but we all know this to be incorrect. The trick is to MAKE the patient feel empowered (and should be a catchphrase more than that stupid customer is always right stuff!)...and that takes compassionate communication and acknowledgement of the underlying probelms (usually helplessness or powerlessness or even tremendous anxiety).

    I was in a meeting of the nurses (I am one) and my bosses all said we were switching to a customer is always right deal. And I said...how about the rights to be an individual, empowered to make choices, input in all healthcare choices, and compassionate treatment for their lives. I was told that was stupid and just to say the customer is always right....

    So I grabbed the mission statement off the wall...put it down in front of my bosses...walked out. It said the very thing I said!!!!! (luckily I did not get fired).

    I also later reminded them that the word compassionate is a two way street...I think I made my point!

    Managments (not necessarily nursing management, but facility) tend to overlook or forget this very valid point of being compassionate and thankful to employees...and need the reminder often...as long as you don't get fired doing it! discussing concerns that you feel underappreciated should always be an open door policy in all facilities...and not just the old easy way out..the blame game!!!!


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