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An open letter to the ER triage nurse

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by laurasc laurasc (Member)

laurasc has 26 years experience and specializes in Gen Surg, Peds, family med, geriatrics.

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You are reading page 19 of An open letter to the ER triage nurse. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

SpEdtacular has 7 years experience and specializes in ED, ICU, Progressive Care, Informatics.

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Why would a nurse have to be either of those extremes? Would it be so hard to be somewhere in the middle (a vast area)? The nurse who is busy being a complete and total b*tch might be too busy b*tching to figure out what was wrong with me. I have been in emergency and non emergency medical situations and I have seen nurses do their job well without having to be rude to anybody. It is beginning to be suggested in this thread that a nice nurse is somehow less competent than a nurse that is rude and doesn't mind letting a patient know it.

I don't think the OP was expecting a sappy nurse. I think she wanted a little dignity and respect, heaven forbid!

I don't know what she was looking for but in spite of a rude comment she was well taken care of which is the most important thing.

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Well, the OP hasn't been around for a while, I'm wondering if she ever sent the letter?

As others have mentioned, I think this is the sort of thing that should have been addressed in the moment. How difficult would it have been to draw the triage nurse's attention to her behavior by saying something as simple as "Gosh, has it been a busy day here today?"

As a nursing supervisor, I am sure the OP understands the importance of addressing problems when they occur, rather than letting things slide until they become a bigger problem.

Sending a letter such as this is really ineffective, passive aggressive, and, as has been demonstrated here, quite inflammatory. A more direct, assertive, and probably more effective approach would be to meet face to face with the nursing supervisor for that ED and discuss your concerns with him or her.

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Altra is a BSN, RN and specializes in Emergency & Trauma/Adult ICU.

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After spending all that energy this morning reading this entire thread in one sitting, I think there still are issues to discuss.

The consensus regarding the nurse's comment is yes, most of us think it was rude.

But does it merit all this . . . hysteria?

This is exactly what bothers me about this and some other recent threads.

Some phrases that have been tossed around here include "if you had an ounce of compassion" "shouldn't be a nurse" "heartless" "should be fired" etc. etc. etc.

And yes, even the underlying premise that the OP, a nurse with medical knowledge, experienced the onset of initially ominous-seeming symptoms which subsequently resolved and turned out to be far less serious ... but her continued focus is on the perceived rudeness.

I'm perplexed.

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11,294 Posts; 76,424 Profile Views

This is exactly what bothers me about this and some other recent threads.

Some phrases that have been tossed around here include "if you had an ounce of compassion" "shouldn't be a nurse" "heartless" "should be fired" etc. etc. etc.

And yes, even the underlying premise that the OP, a nurse with medical knowledge, experienced the onset of initially ominous-seeming symptoms which subsequently resolved and turned out to be far less serious ... but her continued focus is on the perceived rudeness.

I'm perplexed.

I pondered my use of the word hysteria all afternoon. But it means "excess anxiety" and that is what I noticed in many of the posts, especially at the beginning of this thread. It made me think of . . . .

off_with_her_head.JPG

My question is not whether the nurse was rude or not. She was rude.

But to contact the CEO, the local newspapers, etc., over this seems . . . . . over the top.

So, I'm perplexed about that too.

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Nurse_Diane has 10 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and specializes in psychiatry.

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Wow, I can't believe I read this entire thread. Maybe I can get a free t-shirt or something?:p

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nursemike has 12 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Rodeo Nursing (Neuro).

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I pondered my use of the word hysteria all afternoon. But it means "excess anxiety" and that is what I noticed in many of the posts, especially at the beginning of this thread. It made me think of . . . .

off_with_her_head.JPG

My question is not whether the nurse was rude or not. She was rude.

But to contact the CEO, the local newspapers, etc., over this seems . . . . . over the top.

So, I'm perplexed about that too.

You are correct, of course, that this is yet another situation where hysteria can be less than helpful, and Ashkins had a good point about grace. We don't know that this wasn't an example of a good nurse having a very bad day. I know I've argued repeatedly that the nurse's behavior was indefensible, but indefensible is not necessarily unforgivable. I've done a few things that were indefensible, myself, and when I've been called on it, I've said (sometimes eventually), yes, you're right, I'm sorry.

Still, isn't there a substantial difference between arguing that a transgression is forgivable and arguing that it's insignificant, or not a transgression at all? Nearly every poster on this thread has agreed the nurse was rude, but then about half go on to explain why that was okay. Was it the end of the world? No. Was it a crime against humanity? Well, yeah, it was a bit of one, certainly not on a par with some others, but I just don't see how it was worthy of a nurse. Honestly, even just failing to acknowledge the patient during the triage seems pretty lame. And it wasn't just rude. It was indifferent. A number of posters have argued they'd rather have a rude nurse who knew her stuff than a nice one who didn't. I'm arguing that if you can't, or won't, respond appropriately to something as basic as a patient needing to pee, it's a pretty blind leap of faith to think you can run a code, or would, if the mood didn't suit you.

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SpEdtacular has 7 years experience and specializes in ED, ICU, Progressive Care, Informatics.

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You are correct, of course, that this is yet another situation where hysteria can be less than helpful, and Ashkins had a good point about grace. We don't know that this wasn't an example of a good nurse having a very bad day. I know I've argued repeatedly that the nurse's behavior was indefensible, but indefensible is not necessarily unforgivable. I've done a few things that were indefensible, myself, and when I've been called on it, I've said (sometimes eventually), yes, you're right, I'm sorry.

Still, isn't there a substantial difference between arguing that a transgression is forgivable and arguing that it's insignificant, or not a transgression at all? Nearly every poster on this thread has agreed the nurse was rude, but then about half go on to explain why that was okay. Was it the end of the world? No. Was it a crime against humanity? Well, yeah, it was a bit of one, certainly not on a par with some others, but I just don't see how it was worthy of a nurse. Honestly, even just failing to acknowledge the patient during the triage seems pretty lame. And it wasn't just rude. It was indifferent. A number of posters have argued they'd rather have a rude nurse who knew her stuff than a nice one who didn't. I'm arguing that if you can't, or won't, respond appropriately to something as basic as a patient needing to pee, it's a pretty blind leap of faith to think you can run a code, or would, if the mood didn't suit you.

The OP's story pretty much disproves that theory because the triage nurse, while not attending to her bathroom needs, got her where she needed to be in spite of her poor attitude (the nurse not the OP). All healthcare workers should do their best to be polite, attentive, empathetic, nice, professional whatevers but crucifying someone for once incidence of being rude is a bit extreme (and yes maybe the triage nurse is chronically rude but we don't know that).

"There's a bathroom over there, you can walk there." was the triage nurse's initial response which I can see as coming off as rude even if it wasn't meant to be and maybe the response given rubbed her the wrong way and she thought she'd respond in kind (even though she should have been more professional). I don't pretend to know what other people are thinking because I don't know what other people are thinking unless they tell me.

I know I've been screamed at because someone perceived me as belittling them or being rude. I'll never forget I was taking a medical history on a lady with MS and replied with a few okays or uh huhs to acknowledge I was listening and out of no where she started screaming, "HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY! HOW DARE YOU BELITTLE ME! DON'T YOU SPEAK TO ME LIKE I'M A CHILD!" something to that effect.

Everyone's jaw dropped because I was being nice and nothing about my manner was rude, although for whatever reason that's how the patient took it. I took a breath and without missing a beat I said "Ma'am it was not my intention to belittle or insult you and I apologize" Then she calmed down and said "Thank you, Now you're speaking to me like I'm an adult." Was I thinking lady I don't know what the f*** you're talking about but you need to calm the f*** down because you're acting CRAZY! Probably. My point being that had she not told me that she felt this way I'd never have known. I understand being sick is typically not when people are at their most assertive but by not addressing the behavior with the individual you're not giving her the chance to apologize (because most people don't want to be rude) and/or change her behavior because she might not even be aware that she upset you.

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traumagirll99 specializes in er,cvicu,icu.

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Wow...having just read this entire thread or as I have taken to calling it the circle of repeating the same comments by a few select posters, I have come to the conclusion that this thread is continuing because people apparently like beating a not only dead but badly mutilated horse. Anybody interested in forming a support group of readers who endured the entire thread?

(sacrasm applied there)...geeze come on you know that was funny...

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medic6070 has 1 years experience and specializes in ER paramedic.

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Thank you for mentionong the "ambulance attendents". I am a Paramedic with 30+ years of pre-hospital experience. I see people on what may well be the worst day of their life even if it is not, seeing me is defiently not what they had planned for the their day when they got out of bed! I finished my ADN a year ago and am still lookiing for my first position in nursing. I have to say I have been concentrating on ED positions, however that has changed in the last couple of months. That having been said, even at 3:00am nearing the end of a 24 hour shift, I have never treated someone that has invited me in to their home to help them, the way you were treated in the ED. (although I have had many nurses treat me in that way when I tried to give them report on a patient, you just get used to it.) You should have taken the nurses name (if you didn't) and send this letter to the ED nurse manager, nursing administrator, PR dept., and the facility President. Their is no excuse for it. if you are having that bad of a day, clock out and go home. If it is not just that day, take a leave of absence, a long vacation, or just find another job! I hope the rest of your care was very much better and that you are well today.

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11,294 Posts; 76,424 Profile Views

I was thinking of this thread yesterday as we drove to see our daughter - it's a 2 1/2 hour trip and my husband and I are recovering from colds, a nasty chest rattling cough, and insomnia caused by said cough.

We were not in the best of moods and through out the day, we snapped at one another.

In other words, we were rude.

I kinda chuckled to myself and thought "I need to notify the local newspaper, my husband's boss, his parents, and CNN" of my husband's atrocious behavior. ;)

And he needed to do the same to me. :coollook:

:clown:

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11,294 Posts; 76,424 Profile Views

Wow, I can't believe I read this entire thread. Maybe I can get a free t-shirt or something?:p

Anybody interested in forming a support group of readers who endured the entire thread?

(sacrasm applied there)...geeze come on you know that was funny...

I agree - reading this entire thread in the last couple of days when it was already really long deserves some credit. ;)

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14 Posts; 931 Profile Views

your letter is unbelievably touching and is unfortunately more common place behavior than it should be. i know i have experienced it as a patient, and it always left me dumbfounded as to why these people are nurses. nurses have such a critical role in how a patient responds to care that it just boggles my mind. i do understand being overworked, understaffed, and downright overwhelmed, but every patient should be cared with dignity and respect. i am rn nursing student and a career changer. let me first say that it was a career change by choice and a stirring passion that i am finally fulfilling. there are two instigators to this unacceptable behavior 1. nurses that have lost their passion and 2. people entering nursing because it seems to be "the thing to do" in today's challenging economy and they think that it is a sure thing (which it is not). nursing is a whole lot more than "employment". you see i don't even know if i am going to have a job but i am on my journey with eyes wide open because i want to help people. of all the ebn care that is available at the top of the list would be patient comfort, empathy, and comfort.

ps. to all of the nurses out there that are thinking... what is she smoking, and that i may be looking through rose colored glasses i say it may be time for you to rethink why you became a nurse in the first place.

:nurse:

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