The Disrespect Of Nurses - page 2

by TheCommuter 23,843 Views | 81 Comments Senior Moderator

I was at my workplace earlier this month when my supervisor told me about a volatile situation that was unfolding on a different floor between another nurse and a verbally abusive family member. This particular family member was... Read More


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    Quote from TheCommuter
    I'm just stirring up the inkwell here. . .

    What if the threatened nurse works at a facility where management and administration implicitly discourage getting local law enforcement involved when crazy patients, families, or visitors step out of line?

    I know for a fact that many managers and people who work in marketing actively discourage healthcare workers from calling law enforcement on the nutcases because they want the hospital to be viewed as a 'safe haven' and not a place where the police regularly visit.
    Simple: If you are threatened, call the police. Their number is 911.

    Nursing is a job. Like many jobs, occasionally management will put the bottom line ahead of worker safety. A worker who takes steps to create a safe work environment may be seen as rocking the boat.

    Imagine having this discussion in any other field: " I work as an accountant, and we have a client who is threatening me. The head accountant insists I call him, rather than the police"..

    Being a nurse does not preclude you from having the same rights to safety as the rest of the workforce.
    DizzyLizzyNurse, cp1024, anotherone, and 7 others like this.
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    I had a patient get in my face and yell at me about the fact that his room did not have an in-room shower (the shower for his room was down the hall about 20ft). He stated that staff in the ED assured him there'd be a shower when he was admitted, and was irate when I told him he could use the one down the hall or wait until another room opened up. The guy (big 6'3"+ 250lbs+) never touched me, but there were moments I thought he might.
    Of course, the resident who arrived in his white coat promptly commanded respect, and the patient toned down, backed up and started prefacing his complaints with things like "I don't mean to be disrespectful but..." and used more deferential body gestures like looking down and to the side.

    Another incident I know of involved a nurse who got body slammed and put in choke hold. When I heard about it, I started wondering about the possibility of calling police, pressing charges, etc. That patient would've been apprehended and arrested if that incident had occurred anywhere else, but not in the hospital. If people know they can come to the hospital and not be held responsible for their violent actions, will that make them more likely to be violent??
    Zombi RN, wooh, and opossum like this.
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    I think this problem is universal. It certainly occurs in the UK.
    Last edit by JDZ344 on May 14, '14
    barbyann, anotherone, and opossum like this.
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    If someone touches you, ie bodyslams and puts you in a chokehold, you most definitely have the right to press charges. The facility may not like it, but no one has the right to touch you, or even get in your face and yell. I am pleasant to all of my patients, but have learned to be friendly, but very firm. It usually works. But I have no problem calling security or the nursing supervisor if need be. And thankfully I work in a facility that will back me up. And we have had a couple of our ER nurses to press charges on abusive patients. Our employers have a responsibility to provide us and other patients with a safe environment. That is the part that usually gets management to listen, if you mention you also fear for the safety of other patients.
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    At my facility, the nurses are instructed, and empowered to, ask unruly, disruptive visitors to leave. If they refuse, the nurses have been instructed to notify the local police for assistance. This type of behavior is not tolerated-it is frightening for our confused residents and the nurses just plain do not have time to deal with this crap!
    Piggles, sckimrn, and wooh like this.
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    Management at my facility does nothing to protect the nurse. All that matters is the "patient satisfaction scores." They don't want police involved because it looks bad "in the community." If a patient or family is abusive to you, they will send YOU home to avoid further interaction with them. If the "customer" gets mad or upset, apparently YOU did something to set them off. I don't know how or why the general public has become so abusive toward nurses (both verbally and physically) but I have noticed a definite trend the past few years. Unfortunately, at my facility (hospital) management will not back you up.
    noyesno, anotherone, and wooh like this.
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    Quote from applewhitern
    Management at my facility does nothing to protect the nurse. All that matters is the "patient satisfaction scores." They don't want police involved because it looks bad "in the community." If a patient or family is abusive to you, they will send YOU home to avoid further interaction with them. If the "customer" gets mad or upset, apparently YOU did something to set them off. I don't know how or why the general public has become so abusive toward nurses (both verbally and physically) but I have noticed a definite trend the past few years. Unfortunately, at my facility (hospital) management will not back you up.
    That is exactly the way it is here. Well, I say here, I only have a couple more weeks as an employee at the hospital, but I still feel like I'm in the middle of it. Our manager believes the patient and/or patient's family implicitly. If a family member said one of the nurses was sacrificing chickens to Satan in a room, my manager would absolutely believe it, even absent any evidence. And there's never been a case of her patting down the family and then letting it go. Oh, no, no, no! If there is a complaint made against you, no matter how ridiculous, you are called in the office and reprimanded. One of my last patient complaints stated, "The nurse didn't keep my vein from rolling." I was brought in and talked to about this. I demanded a solution for this from my manager. She admitted that there really isn't a way to keep a vein from rolling if its bound and determined to do so, but that obviously I had not been nice enough about it.
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    Quote from TheCommuter
    I'm just stirring up the inkwell here. . .

    What if the threatened nurse works at a facility where management and administration implicitly discourage getting local law enforcement involved when crazy patients, families, or visitors step out of line?

    I know for a fact that many managers and people who work in marketing actively discourage healthcare workers from calling law enforcement on the nutcases because they want the hospital to be viewed as a 'safe haven' and not a place where the police regularly visit.
    I worked at a place that was sometimes more tolerant than it should've been. I helped a couple of colleagues write a letter to the CEO, HR director, risk manger, and medical chief-of-staff a few key phrases from an interaction including "sexual harassment"... the guy was discharged the next day. For some totally inappropriate actions, the DON was ultimately terminated.

    One contributor to my decision to take the position that I recently did was that it's a university medical center with its own peace officers, at least one of whom is in the ED 24x7... not to mention the city cops who are regularly present for med-clearance, etc.

    It makes such a huge difference to have cops walking through the department on a regular basis.
    LPN2RNn2011 and wooh like this.
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    I am so glad that you touched on this issue TheCommuter. If I have one pet peeve about my profession, that is it! As nurses we are verbally abused by families and physicians. It angers me that disrespectful behavior is ok and not reprimanded. I have experienced and seen many situations where families and physicians have gotten out of hand, however, the discussion with management is how the situation could have been prevented on our end. They consider families and physicians to be "customers" and the adage, "the customer is always right", is forever engrained into our heads. I developed a powerpoint about the image of nurses and I touched on the blatant disrespect for nurses that is evident amongst the public and the medical community in general. We are the eyes and ears of patient care. We are the ones that are in the trenches 24/7 caring for loved ones and appeasing physicians, we give up our holiday time with our loved ones to take care of those that need us. So we deserve more respect. It is not fair and it is partly the cause of why there is a nursing shortage. Why put up with verbal abuse, something that you wouldn't even put up with outside of your workplace, and get paid meagerly for it? That is the mentality of a lot of nurses and they are making a quick exit out of the profession. As I mentioned in my powerpoint, the first step in changing the public's and medical community's view of nurses is to believe that we are important. We need to realize that we have evolved from the mindset that existed during the Dark Ages of Nursing. We need to realize our worth. We, also, have to take a stand against the volatile behavior that is targeted at us. If we have a volatile family member even after trying to rationalize with them, call the behavioral response team or security. That will let them know that behavior is not acceptable. If we have a physician acting inappropriately, tell them: "we aren't getting anywhere with this conversation, so when we are able to have this conversation again, as adults and professionals, I will be more than willing to speak with you. Because I am not receptive to anyone that raises their voice at me". And write that physician up and keep your own copy of it!! If they want to be treated like professionals, they need to be held accountable for their actions. We know management is not going to have our backs most of the time, so we need to start looking out for ourselves and each other. That is what nurse empowerment is all about. They are trying to raise the bar for the nursing profession, but we still are viewed as handmaidens to physicians. So we need to raise the bar ourselves! We need to show them that type behavior is not acceptable. We are adults and we are professionals. We are not anyone's slave or handmaiden and we are definitely not anyone's punching bag!

    Sorry, I'll get off of my soap box now.
    LPN2RNn2011, Syrenia, sonia211, and 4 others like this.
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    Yeah, I'm all to familiar with abusive behavior. I had a pt's son be a threat to me and the staff. He was over 6 feet tall and easily weighed more then 300 lbs. He also told us he had an anger issue. When we didn't medicate his father quickly enough, all hell broke loose, even though it wasn't time for the medication to be given. He threatened us, big time. I won't go into details for obvious reasons, but the secretary looked at me and I nodded for her to call security. Even the RT who is a guy, backed off.
    I then went to my manager and talked to him. He went and talked to the son and then manager came to the desk to talk to us. He told us calling security was a bad idea, it would ramp up the son. We were only to call security if the son gave us 'direct and threatening eye contact.' I told my boss I would call security if *I* felt threatened and wasn't going to wait for this giant of a man to get that close to me so I could be hit and THEN call security!!


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