So Sick of Pushy Patients and Verbal Abuse

  1. For the most part, I am described by others as being extremely patient and kind. But my fuse is wearing thin! with the increasing number of entitled, demanding patients, as well as verbally and sometimes threatened physically abusive nature. ( Everyone I am describing is alert and oriented. I can handle the person with brain injury or the mentally ill that have less control of their behavior and words. It's the perfectly with-it adults who should know better). I am so sick of demanding patients that my attitude towards them has changed- I go in and do my minimum assessment and work, get them what they need, and remind them that verbal abuse is not tolerated. I have gone to managers. I work in a float pool so thankfully I rarely have the same person twice. What makes a person think they can call us stupid idiots? When they have little clue about what is policy and procedure, and expecially if other nurses have given in and done what they wanted or how they wanted it. Sometimes joking around can help dissolve some situations- I have seen nurses fire back insults at the patient in a joking manner (that is not my way) and I've seen others give in to whatever they want (giving shots in unapproved sites), or getting them their coke while they are cussing. Excuse me, if you want your coke you are going to ask for it nicely, and no I am not neglecting you or refusing your care. Your immediate need of a carbonated beverage is not essential to your health and healing. I just want to say "put on your big girl panties and behave." The attitudes of patients seems to be getting worse lately, and it is stressing me out. I would like to begin a program at my hospital system based on mutual respect, with some sort of measure to curtail the verbal abuse by patients on staff. Or family members to staff. I, and many of my colleagues, are highly trained nurses with the interest of excellent care for the patient. We did not get our license out of a cracker jack box, and even if we did, no one deserves to be spoken to that way. I don't care if that's how they are raised, or just their way- they need to be accountable for their words and actions. We are not doormats. This, along with the stress of med-surg, is running me out of bedside nursing.
    If your hospital or facility has any program or action plan in place, would you please share? Does it work?
    Thanks!
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    About applesRN

    Joined: Nov '05; Posts: 70; Likes: 42
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 13 year(s) of experience

    46 Comments

  3. by   TheCommuter
    Welcome to the not-so-wonderful world of customer service.

    If a customer is being pushy toward the pilot on a major airline, the air marshall will keep the person in line or escort them off the plane before it even takes off. If a customer verbally abuses a bank teller, there's a good chance that security will ask the person to leave the premises. If a customer curses at or threatens the waitress at your local pancake restaurant, the manager might call the police. If rude patients and family members hover over the physician at his/her private practice, they will be made to leave.

    However, nurses are expected to suck it up and take it because our 'customers' are sick and not feeling at their best. This mentality is not right. I feel that abusive patients and demanding visitors need to be held accountable for their behaviors and actions.
  4. by   Kybred
    Yes, the customer IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT! Respect for each other has flown
    out the window. Nursing is '"the pits" these days. There is not a nursing shortage,
    just a shortage of nurses willing to take the abuse, long hours, disrespect, etc...
  5. by   canesdukegirl
    Commuter is spot on. We don't tolerate abusive behavior from society in general. So why is it that nurses are expected to?

    So let's start brainstorming about what we can do about it. There is a risk management department in most hospitals, but they mostly deal with medical errors or questions involving the legalities of consents, POA, etc. Most hospitals also have a patient relations department. That may just be the best place to start. They pay these employees to work out problems with patients who are not satisfied. Perhaps we can propose to expand this department somehow to help us as nurses. I am at a loss of exactly what to propose...which is why I wanted y'all's input.

    Thanks for bringing this up, OP. Maybe we can do something about this perpetuating problem.
  6. by   Catch22Personified
    How do you think I feel when my coworker got written up for refusing to give a diabetic patient who's sugar was 350 a candy bar? Apparently refusing to give someone something that may land them in a coma is neglect.
  7. by   IowaKaren
    I know how you feel. It's in all aspects of nursing, not just the hospital. And heaven forbid you try to educate about health issues and compliance. If they don't want to hear it, your written up because they will twist everything you say and your manager will protect the company before she/he will protect you. Not ideal, that's for sure.
  8. by   thehipcrip
    Instead of just having a patient advocate, health care facilities should also have an ombudsman's office to advocate for the rights of and resolve problems affecting nurses and other staff.
  9. by   Nurse_Diane
    administrative nonsense in hospitals, such as referring to patients as "customers", only serves to fuel the fire for the "customer's" sense of entitlement.
  10. by   wooh
    I still remember the day I got written up because I insisted on assessing my patient before getting that patient's uncle a sleep chair. Oh,and to add to my "rudeness" I also gave the patient's mother (a baby admitted with respiratory problems) a teaching sheet on secondhand smoking.
    Patients and their families don't care about what they NEED, it's all about what they WANT. And hospital management rewards their behavior.
  11. by   umcRN
    how about abusive parents...ugh we had one set recently that was so bad that the hospital legal people got involved and they were restricted to 1hr visits a day with a security guard present...
  12. by   Futterwacken
    For those of you who missed it on the view the other day.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L3eeC2lJZs
    Perfect example of an organization that refuses to let their 'customers' walk all over them. Not that hard is it??
  13. by   ledzepfan
    Quote from wooh
    I still remember the day I got written up because I insisted on assessing my patient before getting that patient's uncle a sleep chair. Oh,and to add to my "rudeness" I also gave the patient's mother (a baby admitted with respiratory problems) a teaching sheet on secondhand smoking.
    Patients and their families don't care about what they NEED, it's all about what they WANT. And hospital management rewards their behavior.

    Amen. One patient at my hospital wanted a milkshake but she was NPO (she was admitted with abd. pain)
    Her nurse wouldn't give in when the pt. became loud and belligerent.....so the pt. called a Condition H.
    She got her milkshake and then smirked that she should do that more often so she can get what she wants.

    Our hospitals "plan of action" in dealing with rude,demanding,unreasonable patients/family is to "remember
    they are sick and under a lot of stress". Well some people are just simply a$$holes whether they are sick
    or not. We have a Patient Liason employed at our hospital, but whose side does she come down on? Guess.
  14. by   Limitless_84
    Your patients are paying customers who are receiving a service for their money. Coming from the perspective of a mother with a medically fragile child, and also a BSN student, I can certainly empathize with some of the "demands" patients can make. I have always demanded competent care for my child, for instance, whether or not the nurse or physician has wanted to give it. I have been forceful when necessary, rude occasionally, and in every instance my child's well-being was at stake. Sometimes people are just douchebags, but I think fairly often they're simply sticking up for themselves the way they know how to.

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