"I'm going to sue you", What do you say? - page 2

This has happened to me soooo many times but especially during the past year. One particular time I told the doctor and he came straight over and DC'd the patient and told the family not to ever... Read More

  1. by   UM Review RN
    I must have an auto-response for some reason, because whether it's right or wrong, I've actually caught myself doing this. :imbar:

    I usually glare at the patient ("Geez, they're determined to make yet more work for me--as if I don't have enough to do"), heave a deep sigh, shake my head as if to wonder why I get all the nutcases, and continue with the admission forms....

    Patient usually stops saying it because we really do take good care of our patients and it shows. Some people are so insecure it's like they can't believe that while they're that vulnerable, someone isn't out to take advantage of them.

    At least, that's what I figure is at the root of it.

    Meantime, I have to work on not letting my annoyance for statements like that show so easily. :imbar
    Last edit by UM Review RN on Jan 3, '06
  2. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from siri
    well, thank you, havin' a party. that was very nice of you to say that. i was.........very young. yes, i had some stupid things come out of my mouth. always got me in trouble in my youth. thank goodness i've finally after years of experience, learned to practice a little restraint.

    nursing builds character. you/we build upon this character, respect is earned and you gather a little wisdom along the way.

    not to say i don't have much to learn about life, i do. i'm not perfect in any shape or form. but, i do like to think i am a little wiser for some of the more asinine mistakes i've made.




    it really depends upon the situation. sometimes, silence is the best policy. many remarks are made "in the heat of passion", so to speak. therefore, just keeping one's mouth shut is the lesser of two evils.

    but, yes, on occasion, there is a time to speak. i think the flat statement, "you appear to be upset" is most appropriate. this invites elaboration and might clear up any misconstrued issue/s. simply showing the individual you are aware they are upset, need clarification, or simply the need to vent. it might just show the individual you/we do really care and thereby halt any future litigation.

    sincere kindness usually softens the situation and provides for a better outcome.
    it seems that any time i have heard about someone threatening to sue (no one has ever made that threat directly to me), it was far past the point where a "you appear to be upset" comment would be appropriate. while kindness might work in the early stages of a dispute, i do believe there is a point of no return, past which the best course of action is let the patient start working their way up the chain of command. unfortunately, sometimes things we say in the spirit of working things out are miscontrued, and/or held against us later. once the "s" word is bandied about, i'd prefer to bow out and let the legal minds handle it.
  3. by   cdmadere
    Quote from Havin' A Party!
    Shouldn't comments like the ones mentioned here be addressed more directly though?

    Something like: "You appear to be upset. Can I help you with anything?" Or anything to this effect.

    This would give the patient (or whoever) the opportunity to state their specific prob, and provide us with some identifiable issue we may need to pass on or act on, if reasonable, to avoid or minimize any damage that might ensue.

    Since the complaint may be legit, why not take advantage and learn where they're coming from at an early junction?
    This is all well and good. But I think things like this are being said AFTER trying the above route.
    I've been there.
  4. by   Tweety
    Quote from Havin' A Party!
    Shouldn't comments like the ones mentioned here be addressed more directly though?

    Something like: "You appear to be upset. Can I help you with anything?" Or anything to this effect.

    This would give the patient (or whoever) the opportunity to state their specific prob, and provide us with some identifiable issue we may need to pass on or act on, if reasonable, to avoid or minimize any damage that might ensue.
    Did you copy that out of a textbook?

    Seriously, textbook answer though it may be, it's a good one.


    Quote from Havin' A Party!
    Since the complaint may be legit, why not take advantage and learn where they're coming from at an early junction?
    I agree. I also document threats of being sued on an incident report to give the Risk Management guys a heads up. I forgot to mention that I do that.
  5. by   Loribabble
    Luckily, I have never come across this... but one hospital I worked at took it VERY seriously as a threat - especially if it was directed to someone specifically.... and security even got involved.

    From what I understood, they were told that they were in their rights to sue if that was what they felt was necessary but that it was NOT ok to threaten staff - there were proper channels to follow if there was a true complaint re: care -such a nurse managers, patient relations etc.
  6. by   PennyLane
    I have had this said to me. But never when a breach of duty and/or patient harm occurred. It has been over minor things...delays in seeing the MD, going to Xray, etc. Everyday things in a busy ER. People don't seem to realize we have to prioritize constantly. I haven't come up with a good response. It does put me on the defensive, though. People seem to think you can sue over anything nowadays, while in actuality there has to be a clear breach of duty, which injured a patient, etc.
  7. by   sirI
    Quote from PennyLane
    People seem to think you can sue over anything nowadays, while in actuality there has to be a clear breach of duty, which injured a patient, etc.
    Actually, anyone can sue over anything. It is after the suit is filed when it is determined whether the case is meritorious and if so, go to litigation in the courts.

    It is not the successful suit that ruins the careers, per se. It is the ones who file suit that cause the most damage. Filing over any little anything. Many insurance companies will settle out of court to keep from having a verdict rendered. The defendent still pays a huge price whether the suit is successful or not.
  8. by   jen42
    Whenever I work at the jail, I hear this ALL THE TIME. Usually they're not threatening me personally, although sometimes. It's usually over the fact that it takes a couple of days to get non-emergent meds started, or because they're in jail in the first place.

    I usually say, "I see," and continue with what I'm doing. It's sort of a deflating comment for people. What are they going to say- "No, REALLY!"
  9. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I'd direct them to our Customer Service line (yes, we have one).
  10. by   hipab4hands
    Quote from caroladybelle
    They are just being manipulative, like children.

    My favorite is "I'm gonna have your job", usually said by a male.

    (please, take my job!!!!! But quite frankly, Honey, you don't have the balls to do my job)
    LOL- I had a MD, who was not part of our medical group or on staff, call up and demand that I look up a drug doseage for him.
    When I refused, he started a rant about suing me, getting my license, and insisted I HAD to provide him with the info BECAUSE HE WAS A DOCTOR./

    I very calmly explained that his name did not appear on my last paycheck, so I had no legal obligation to provide drug info to him, and that he had the resources to look up info for himself.

    I also sweetly asked him for his full name and License number, because I was going to file a complaint with the state medical board.

    Never heard back from the doc again.
  11. by   nursemelani
    I was recently in the ED with my 72 year old Father. He was having numerous health problems, all of which were exacerbated by his depression. The Doctors, nurses, and social workers were quick to dismiss him as a psych case, and not take any of his physical symptoms seriously. He was admitted 3 times in 48 hours, because he wasn't eating, but he was taking his oral anti-hyperglycemics, so he would pass out, his wife would call 911, and when the medics took his blood glucose level, it was in the 20s. He was also having a hard time urinating. The third time he was admitted, he was there for 12 hours without urinating. They tried to put in a foley, but they said that he wouldn't "let them". He told me that it was the worst pain of his life, and my Dad is a tough guy. I kept telling different nurses "Maybe his prostate is enlarged", and they said Yeah, maybe. I kept asking if his blood sugar meds should be D/C'ed, and they said "Yeah, maybe". So bottom line, it took 3 ED visits and 4 Doctors before they finally examined his prostate and admitted that yes it was enlarged, and D/ced his blood sugar meds.
    The point of all this was that even though I am a nurse, and I know people are human, and I have never sued anyone........if my Dad would have died before that third visit (and if he had been alone, he probably would have), I would have sued their butts off.
  12. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from Havin' A Party!
    Shouldn't comments like the ones mentioned here be addressed more directly though?

    Something like: "You appear to be upset. Can I help you with anything?" Or anything to this effect.

    This would give the patient (or whoever) the opportunity to state their specific prob, and provide us with some identifiable issue we may need to pass on or act on, if reasonable, to avoid or minimize any damage that might ensue.

    Since the complaint may be legit, why not take advantage and learn where they're coming from at an early junction?

    I think that's a great comeback (though I completely see myself doing what Siri did in an especially trying situation; like that other poster said, I also get a somewhat smart mouth when I feel cornered). Usually when you answer with, "I'm sorry you feel that way; is there anything I can do to help?", the person is so taken aback by your reaction (you've admitted to and apologized for nothing and have totally batted the ball right back at them) that they either shut up or crank it down a bit and start talking.
  13. by   rjflyn
    For what its worth my DW works as a legal assistant so I have a little insight to what goes on.

    The good thing is even if every one of those people say they are going to sue talks to a lawyer- the lawyer if he is a decent one is going to tell them that they can't for the most part they can not sue for there own stupidity.

    Comming from the veiw of working in the ER I hear that statment from patients/families alot. More often than not I ignore it as its comming form someone who has neglected their health for so long even if they were to die at that moment the cause is going to be on them and not me. You know I am a nurse not a magician.

    Also it often comes from someone who has been waiting for a long time in the lobby. There are days I would like to say "I'm sorry that you were stupid enough to come the the ER for -insert minor complaint- but your even more stupid for waiting 10 hours to be seen.

    End of rant
    Rj

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