Best and Worst Patient Interaction

Nurses General Nursing


Over one's career you get to see the best and worst in people. I would like to open up the floor to share the best (and worst) patient interactions that you've had and what lessons you've learned. 

Excellent topic.  My best experience was taking care of a hospice patient. Whenever I walked in the room, the family would all step back so I could get to the bedside.  They told me "thank you so much for taking care of her, you have such a comforting  presence." My worst experience came from taking care of a MVA patient on a ventilator. He became unstable. I was immediately in the room, the team quickly stabilized  him. Girlfriend somehow watched all of this. She reported me to administration. She became afraid of me. " if she can save him, she can kill him".

Davey Do

10,472 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).


Specializes in ED RN, Firefighter/Paramedic.

My worst overall experiences are people who come in to the ED for random complaints only to find out they have widespread advanced cancer.  Of all the years in EMS and all the things I've seen, those cases are the ones that hit me the hardest.

The best moments for me are generally when everything is "going wrong" but my brain is firing on all cylinders and I'm on top of what's happening and help get the patient stabilized.

Specializes in Geriatrics.

In my experience, patients are not so much the issue as the family members, who more than likely have borderline personality disorder....


5 Posts

Specializes in Nursing.

Worst patient was the trached lady who looked demon-possessed. I'd just taken report and was making rounds and she coded. The RT didn't want to come into the room until gowned and masked because she had Klebsiella pneumonia. She was bleeding out rectally and  her IV was blown. She died and her look still haunts me.🤐

Best was toddler who came in carried by father unconscious and choking. No luck with Hemlich, I managed to gently ventilate until the ED doc got Magill forceps and pulled out a round piece of hard candy. She immediately woke up and acted like nothing happened. Parents thought we were miracle workers.😊


3 Posts

I had the unpleasure of a disastrous experience with an unruly patient who happened to be a nurse in rehab one time and his family. The patient was in his last 2 weeks of rehab and had a PEG tube but was starting to swallow his medications and had been learning to eat meals however we were supplementing his meals with nocturnal feedings.  For three days in a row I had administered the patient's morning medications orally. The patient took his medications one by one with gatorade.  On a Monday morning I had been off the weekend and over the weekend a nurse had crushed all his meds and pushed them through his peg for two days.  I asked the patient before beginning if he wanted them crushed or wanted to swallow the medications twice. The patient stated, "  I will swallow them." Well I proceeded giving the medications one by one to the patient.  Mid way through the Occupational Therapist comes in and tells us to hurry up.  This was patient who was nervous, anxious and one you didn't push.  He had attempted suicide and was recovering from a brain injury.  SOOOOO I continue giving him the medications one by one as his frustration level builds and the occupational therapy sits there staring at us.  Then the patient's mother comes in and she keeps pressing the patient. Mid way through he decided he does not want any other meds.  This was the patient decision. This was fine, I offer to crush and put the meds in his peg. The patient refuses. This is fine it is his patient right.  So I mark off the meds the patient did not take in the MAR.  I get called back in the room by the Physician to talk to the mother over what happened I explain and the family is angry because I did not give the rest of the medications. The patient was of sound mind and had a right to refuse.  After the fact I'm no longer allowed to be in the patient room. A few weeks after the fact I'm no longer allowed to work or float to that floor due to that patient and family interaction.  That was the worst patient/family experience ever and I did nothing wrong. 

Specializes in orthopedic/trauma, Informatics, diabetes.

The best experience I have had, and it was many years ago. I had a pt that had AIDS. He said he normally went to a different hospital (we have 2 level 1 trauma centers within 10 mi of each other) but ended up with us. 

He was homeless, dirty, had very little clothing. Probably was an IV drug user. I think he came in for possible pneumonia. I had him as a pt for 2 or 3 days. When I told him that I wouldn't be back for a couple of days (I am a weekend RN), he told me that he wanted to thank me because I was the first nurse in a very long time that someone treated him like a human being. That broke my heart. I was just doing my job: brought him a drink or a snack, maybe a warm blanket. He asked for very little. 

It was very eye opening to me as a fairly new nurse. There are people that appreciate what we do. ❤️

The worst was recently, a pt was frustrated about the situation (they wanted to go home but weren't medically ready) There had already been some drama, but I was in charge on this weekend and this person flipped their lid. In a sea of nurses all wearing the same color scrubs, they singled me out, was videotaping me on their phone and said that they would kill me. 

With the "transparency" that they want pts to have, the pts can see everything in their chart, in real time, so even though our full names are not on our badges, they can see our full names on benign progress notes. 

It really freaked me out. The police were like, "those are just words"   I did not feel supported. I understand pt centered care, but at some point, our safety has to take precedence. 


352 Posts

My worst patient interact

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