Why is it okay for Doctors to yell at Nurses? - page 4

by Anaya_1de

12,655 Views | 71 Comments

I'm currently in Nursing School to get my RN license and I noticed something that is bothering me. Maybe I'm still naive, I just find it baffling to hear how it's almost seen as a given that doctors at times will be disrespectful... Read More


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    I've been yelled at and each time I wrote an incident report. I worked as a secretary at a top 10 not for profit hospital in one of the ICU's while in school. This pulmonary attending yelled at me as soon as I came on the floor to start my shift about an X-ray he ordered an hour ago and why isn't it done? I mean screaming loudly. All the nurses rushed over and the nurse manager came out of her office because he was so loud. I said I just got here. I still have my coat on and my lunch bag in my hands. I was on my way to the break room but I dropped my stuff and said I will put a stat order in right now. He said I asked you an hour ago. No, an hour ago I was at home. I was a minority and so was the day secretary who left early because she had a family emergency. And we looked NOTHING alike. Just minorities. Needless to say the manager and the medical director who was on the other side of the ICU immediately carted him off. He had to take an anger management course and apologize not only to me but the whole staff. He was handled appropriately.

    Now at the for profit hospital that I worked at briefly and I mean briefly as a charge nurse a surgeon cussed me out because I called him about an order he wrote. I couldn't read it neither could the secretary, 4 staff nurses or the charge nurse on the floor next to me. We were super busy that day so I paged him. I asked him to please clarify his order because it was hard to decipher. He immediately calls me a stupid blank and that I need to learn to read and don't call him over stupid blank. I said stop cussing at me and please tell me what you want with this order so we can take care of your patient. And if you continue to cuss at me I'm ending this call. He said f blank and I hung up. In the meantime an oncologist was sitting right behind me and got real close to me and demanded to know who was talking to me like that on the phone because he could hear him yelling obscenities at me. I told him but after I hung up on the surgeon. Fast forward. I did an incident report and the DON didn't believe that he yelled at me and that I misunderstood him. He brought a lot of money to the hospital. Then I threw in the curve call and said Dr. So and So heard the whole conversation but I didn't include him in the incident report. Only the secretary who also heard everything. So I told Dr. So and So about the DON not believing me and when he went to talk to her and the hospital president then and only then was the surgeon written up. I should have included the oncologist on the incident report but I thought myself and the secretary should be enough for witnesses. I guess I was wrong.

    Sorry that was very long post. I've been yelled at by patient's and family and I immediately tell them to stop or I'm walking away.
    applewhitern and LexRaven like this.
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    Those who say they've never been yelled at or never heard a doctor yell might be forgetting or might be young enough that they don't remember.

    Things have improved over the past few decades. And now that doctors are often employees, they have to behave better. They're still gods, just smaller ones than previously.

    Just try not to cry, try not to yell in return. Follow the advice given here and you should be ok.
    applewhitern likes this.
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    Granted I'm not a nurse, but I've never been yelled at by a physician, only nurses (yes, actually yelled at). I've also been accused of "yelling" at people,what I've found is usually any type of disagreement leads to a "yelling" accusation by these folks.
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    If a doctor makes a habit of yelling at nurses, then it is the facility fault and they can be sued for harassment if they don't deal with it.

    I worked agency once and had a doctor yelling at me on the phone. I politely asked him to stopped and explained I am will not take his abuse,and would hang up, he can call me back when he is calmer. That made him madder, after third hang up, he threaten me. I immediately called security that this doctor had threatened me, I also wrote a long detailed report and turned this into risk management and my agency. I am unsure the outcome because I never went back. I do know the charge nurses and other nurses had my back and thanked me profusely because this physician was known for this, however, it never came down to the threats, he mainly just made nurses cry. I don't cry over jerks, he wasn't going to gain the victory.
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    I too was yelled at by a nurse, I was in labor and asked my husband to get some ice chips, he was taking his own sweet like he usually does, and I snapped at him, then the nurse butted in and yelled at me. I was not a difficult patient, I wasn't doing all the swearing and screaming that many do. I just wanted my husband to get off his butt and get me 1 thing, and the horrible witch of a nurse was rude.
    So I do feel your pain
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    For those of you who have never witnessed or experienced the abuse, you are lucky. Where I currently work, it isn't so bad. The doctors usually only get upset when they have a good reason, and they are not "yellers"... they will just calmly tell you that you are stupid. I have seen very few doctors capable of offering criticism in a reasonable way. I have not been so much the target of this but have seen it happen. At my last facility we had a couple of cardiologists who were temper-tantrum screamers who enjoy making nurses cry, and succeed about once a week. They make a lot of money so they are kept on staff.
    The worst kind of tantrum is the one thrown by the doctor because they are upset you paged them, even for a legitimate reason. It makes nurses terrified to call the MD even when its necessary! Its those situations which lead to changes in condition not being immediately reported, because the nurse is second guessing herself and trying to get ready to be yelled at.
    On the bright side... it seems that new doctors (aged 35 and below) are coming out of school nicer than the old ones! Maybe they added "Social skills" to the medical school curriculum!
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    I haven't read all the replies here,
    but,
    in 30+ years of nursing,
    i can count on one hand the times i've ever seen a doctor actually "yell" at a nurse, (or about anything.) I've seen a few angry doctors, though, but, they did not yell. Even that is not super common, though, imo, overtly 'angry' doctors.

    I could describe sometimes i've seen doctors speaking in normal tone but saying kinda nasty things. Not common, either, but, happens sometimes. Seemed more common in the past than nowadays, though.

    i can't quite recall ever seeing a nurse raise her voice in anger....i'm sure it happens, but, i can't recall this right now. I've seen angry nurses, i just can't recall one that actually yelled in anger.

    Lol, once i had an angry patient yell me out, (really didn't have much to do with me, at all, he was just that way)
    and i said, "Ey, you can't yell at me! If i want someone to yell at me, i'll get married!"
    which startled him so much, and he ended up laughing, and that was that. we became good pals after that.
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    Quote from Kooky Korky
    Those who say they've never been yelled at or never heard a doctor yell might be forgetting or might be young enough that they don't remember.

    Things have improved over the past few decades. And now that doctors are often employees, they have to behave better. They're still gods, just smaller ones than previously.

    Just try not to cry, try not to yell in return. Follow the advice given here and you should be ok.
    '

    I'm not saying it never has happened, only that in 20 + years, it's been rare.

    To the poster that said they yell back, well, I disagree with that approach. It's counterproductive to yell out or come back in kind at the person, who is, in my view, dysfunctional at this point. It's unprofessional, and only manages to escalate things, in one way or another, and gets your BP up.

    Hands down, yelling back is a fail in terms of responses. Disengaging is a more effective approach. In situations like that, you also need some moral support when possible. If you can get a word in at all, you say that you will discuss concerns, but not in a loud or disrespectful tone. You have to say this in a firm, but controlled way, so they can see that you mean it.

    If they are still going on a crazed rant, disengage--walk away. You are right. You don't have to take it; therefore, you walk away. It's like dealing with a child during a temper tantrum. They can have one; but I don't have to be an audience to it. As long as they are safe and not hurting themselves or anyone else, separate, contain, and disengage. After they are done acting out, you go back with kindness yet firmness and find out what is their main concern. You use the therapeutic techniques you were taught in nursing school and employ active listening. You reflect back what they said. It's a skill, but you have to want to employ it, and in my view, it is something you have to want to employ out of a sense of compassion as well as problemsolving. Either way, you can never take it personally.

    With other coworkers or docs or other healthcare people, it may or may not indeed be personal--mostly it isn't; it's something going on with them. Still, I can choose not to take it personally--even if that is their intent. That is, I can choose to rise above it, be professional, and carry on with the work at hand. True, it should be addressed, as this is a form of workplace violence, and it cannot be allowed to become acceptable behavior. But it doesn't make or break me. I still have a purpose for being there, and patients that need support, monitoring, care, etc. It doesn't end my world or my life, and it doesn't effect my self-esteem, b/c I know who I am. I am sad that they are so frustrated or that they have learned dysfunctional behavior patterns, but I don't spend my time thinking about what &^*%s they are. That's pointless.

    You have to decide early on how you will deal with this kind of thing, and part of that, IMHO, involves knowing who you are and the reasons for which you are there. It helps tremendously to use those theurapeutic communication techniques taught in school. The key is that you can't be a Polyanna with them. You have to be genuine. People can sense if you are genuine. The techniques are much less effective if somehow there is a sense of disingenuousness.

    You are either there to help people or not. No, you don't have to take a lot of abuse, but you should understand that different people deal with stress in different ways--and there is the potential for a lot of disfunctional behavior--yes, even amongs coworkers and other healthcare people. Draw you line in the sand, strive to be therapeutic, and don't take it personally. Resentment and anger only makes the negative situation more negative, b/c now you have magnified it with inside yourself. You will take it home with you and let it eat at you. Choose to live beyond it.

    No one should go into nursing or healthcare thinking that everyone will be sweetness, roses, and always appreciative. That's so unrealistic.
    Last edit by samadams8 on Nov 29, '12
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    Uh quite obviously it is NOT OK ever. Your instructors are very irresponsibly missleading you whole class. You MUST confront them with this and challenge them. If they don't change their tune I would like to see them lose their jobs. Tell them to get with the times.
    Doctors don't yell at me or my co-workers for one simple reason, we do not tolerate it ever.
    Altra and flyingchange like this.
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    Usually we get condescension more than "yelling". I had one of my OBs tell me to go find her a real nurse since I was obviously not able to do her silly request. But she is just a b(*^^ and I feel sorry for her. But most docs are fine. Just stand up to them and they back down. Usually.


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