"You've got the wrong Mary" ... A Vent About Rude Doctors

  1. 0
    I have been a nurse for a long time and have a very thick skin when it comes to being treated rudely by doctors. I try to be very respectful and call only if it is absolutely necessary. I don't like having to take time out of my busy shift to call them any more than they wish to be interrupted by a call from me so I do so only when what I need absolutely can't wait until normal business hours.

    My problem is this. The hospital I work at now is staffed primarily by hospitalists. They go into this job, I presume, knowing that a large part of their responsibility is to pull call. So, why is it that they get angry no matter what you call for? Seriously. And they sigh and carry on obnoxiously to the point that I can barely maintain my courtesy. They are difficult to understand and will barely stay on the phone long enough to mumble an order at you. Forget reading an order back. They've hung up on you before you get the first syllable out.

    All of this is assuming they are awake to hear you. On two or three occasions now I have had doctors fall asleep on me while getting orders from them. One night it took me about 5 minutes to take a simple medication order because the doctor kept falling asleep on me. There were literally 40 second stretches of complete silence on the other end.

    I really try not to have an us against them mentality when it comes to doctors. I'm sure they could tell some crazy stories about getting called at ridiculous times of the night for things that could have waited until the morning. However, I don't feel like this gives them the right to be CONSISTENTLY rude when you are calling them for legitimate concerns.

    Here's how a call went last night. This was the impetus for this vent. First, let me explain that there are three nurses on the floor that all have the same name, me being one of them. We'll say the name is "Mary".

    My phone rings. It is a callback from Dr. Y.

    Me: "Hello Dr. Y., this is Mary and..."

    Dr. Y.: "Oh my God!!!! Do you realize that you call me more than anyone?! You called me at least six times last night!"

    Me: "I'm sorry but that was not me. I didn't work last night and there are three nurses named Mary on this floor."

    Dr. Y.: "Well, whatever!!! It doesn't matter! What do you want?"

    Me: Going on to ask for an anti hypertensive to address a pt.'s BP that had been running consistently in the 170's to 180's systolic for 2 days without being addressed.

    Dr. Y.: "Why are you calling about this now? Why didn't they do something about this during the day?"

    You get the idea. There are many responses I could have made to that question. Main one being, why didn't you notice the pt.'s BP for the last two days (this happened to be his patient) was sky high and adjust the meds or write for a prn or WRITE SOME DING-DA-DANG CALL PARAMETERS so I wouldn't have to be calling you in the first place.

    It is very aggravating. They really treat us like dogs. Any decent human being would have apologized when they realized they had flamed out the wrong Mary. I feel like pulling him aside the next time I see him and very diplomatically addressing the issue. We are all here in the best interest of the patients (or so we hope). Even the Mary who can be a little over zealous with her calls.

    How do you guys handle this and do you notice that some doctors are worse offenders than others? Have you ever pulled a rude doctor aside and, if so, what was the response?

    I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death but I felt the need to vent about it. The place that I'm working at now is by far the worst. I've been out of hospital nursing for 4 years until 8 months ago when I started this job. Is it a hospitalist thing? That's the only big difference btwn this hospital and others where I've worked.

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  2. 25 Comments...

  3. 0
    A lot of the time, at least where I am, I find this more commonly in surgeons. If the hospitalist throws a fit, whatever. I don't feel as bad calling them as I would a surgeon, mostly because there's the possibility the surgeon may have an early surgery (that doesn't excuse their less than professional behavior at times -- though I will say those surgeons who are extremely rude are the ones with excellent outcomes. Most of the time.).

    I think we, "we" being myself and my coworkers, get lucky because some of the doctors who we're going to page, show up late at night anyway or will be there at 4 or 5 in the morning.

    In the case of the rude doctor, if it's really bad, I let my supervisor and my manager know. The institution I work at has started calling out exceptionally atrocious behavior by both doctors and nurses. One former manager was asked to read some survey we do and the comments at a staff meeting (all of her employees basically said she was a terrible boss because she humiliated all of them). She has a different position now. The doctors have to answer to some other doctor, and it kind of annoys me that all they get a slap on the wrist, which simply translates into, "Don't do it again."

    I'm perfectly happy with the doctors being "abstract concepts," nothing beyond a voice on the phone. I'd rather not see them face to face, and I've learned to be in the same boat as you. I don't call unless it's absolutely important.
  4. 13
    Honestly, I tend to enjoy calling them on their behavior. "Excuse me, but I don't appreciate your tone, and I don't think you'd appreciate if I took the same tone with you" usually does the trick. If not, manager. I have zero tolerance for docs who think they're of more importance than other staff because they have an MD behind their names.
    icuRNmaggie, GrnTea, Surprised1, and 10 others like this.
  5. 0
    I'm sorry you have that experience. Our hospitalists are generally mid level providers that work shifts 7-7:30 (both a and p) - there are several - one covers the ED, one covers the ICU and comes to RRT's and one just takes phone calls (and helps out when needed in different departments). Our surgeons generally have a resident that covers for them overnight - I almost never talk to an attending.
  6. 7
    Yet another good reason for us to use our last names, and drop the ridiculous "first names only" thing.
    icuRNmaggie, GrnTea, GerberaDaisy, and 4 others like this.
  7. 1
    Quote from elkpark
    Yet another good reason for us to use our last names, and drop the ridiculous "first names only" thing.
    Very good point.
    icuRNmaggie likes this.
  8. 3
    I understand doctors are busy, stressed and tired like we are. However, some are ALWAYS grumpy or rude. I find that unacceptable.

    To top it off, the rude ones won't give me what I ask for...just question me and offer some BS alternative.

    In my former workplace, this was dealt with appropriately but at current facility we have inservices on how to avoid paging the doctor. And their bad attitudes are blamed on us calling for dumb stuff.

    I do miss working at a teaching hospital because most calls were to residents and they would be up on the unit with us frequently. Never an attitude.
    SE_BSN_RN, vicky3131, and NF_eyenurse like this.
  9. 1
    The MDs I work with here are the same way. I miss the facility where I did my clinicals - they had progressive discipline programs that could end in the MDs losing the privilege to practice at that hospital if they were rude to the nurses or other staff. Those MDs were all very polite because no one wanted to be kicked out of the facility. I don't know why all hospitals don't have the same policies in place. It doesn't make any sense to tolerate this kind of behavior from physicians.
    Esme12 likes this.
  10. 1
    Quote from Lil'mama
    I do miss working at a teaching hospital because most calls were to residents and they would be up on the unit with us frequently. Never an attitude.
    I totally agree! I love working at teaching hospitals.
    Twinmom06 likes this.
  11. 0
    Quote from calivianya
    I miss the facility where I did my clinicals - they had progressive discipline programs that could end in the MDs losing the privilege to practice at that hospital if they were rude to the nurses or other staff. Those MDs were all very polite because no one wanted to be kicked out of the facility.
    Wow, that sounds awesome!


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