Jump to content

Frustrating Nurse Family Members

Nurses   (2,704 Views | 50 Replies)

adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

3 Followers; 1 Article; 19,080 Profile Views; 1,324 Posts

Anybody else had frustrating experiences caring for patients or their family members who are nurses?

Don't get me wrong--the majority of the nurse patients/families I've cared for are very understanding and delightful to work with. However, it really grinds my gears when we have families whose nursing experience is vastly different from the specialty that they're admitted to, and yet they consistently second-guess and undermine the staff because they think that they know better.

I would never walk into an OR and try to tell an OR nurse how to do their job (or any other specialty in which I have literally zero background). I don't understand how anyone can think that is remotely appropriate.

I honestly think that these families can be harder to teach and work with than non-medical families; in some cases, they know just enough to think that they know what they're talking about, when in reality they completely misunderstand what's happening. Even more frustrating, some of these patients/families don't want to be taught because they're convinced that they already know everything (or worse, they dig their heels in because they don't want to concede that they were wrong in the first place). In addition, when they're dissatisfied about the care (even if they don't understand the situation), they encourage other relatives to 'advocate' by questioning the care, too (at which point you have somebody with no healthcare background/knowledge insisting that they know better than you); now Uncle Bob the mechanic is standing over your shoulder telling you that he 'doesn't like the way that IV looks.' :banghead: It devolves into this painfully adversarial, no-win process.

Above all, it drives me nuts when these patients/families have entirely unrealistic expectations about their care. For instance, you can't demand that the doctor/provider call to update you every hour. I could understand that request from a layperson (I mean, we still aren't going to do it), but surely, as a nurse, you realize that that's a wildly unreasonable expectation, right? I've seen nurse patients/families perform certain behaviors where I find myself literally shaking my head and thinking, "You should know better."

I've seen this in family members with all kinds of medical backgrounds (EKG/rad techs, CNAs, doctors, etc.) but I see it so often with nurses. As I said, the vast majority of nurse patients/families I've cared for have been amazing, and their background has been a huge asset. However, I can say with absolute certainty that some of my worst, most exasperating patients/family members have been nurses, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mavnurse17 has 3 years experience as a BSN, RN.

100 Posts; 1,371 Profile Views

I took care of a patient one night who's daughter was a nurse manager on a L&D floor at another hospital.  We were a cardiovascular PCU.  She demanded I call the ATTENDING GENERAL SURGEON at 0200 to discuss the secretions that were coming out of her NG tube.  Then she decided mom had sepsis (???) and demanded that I take mom's temperature every hour.  

Also had another lovely daughter of another patient that told every provider that walked through the door that she was an oncology nurse.  She eventually "fired" me from dad's care that night because I "wasn't attentive enough."  Eventually we found out she's a medical assistant in a clinic. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

804 Posts; 13,024 Profile Views

Yes, usually the ones who squawk the loudest and throw "I'm a nurse" into every conversation tend not to actually be nurses. "I'm in the "medical field myself" generally translates to "I mop floors in a nursing home." After nearly 41 years as a nurse myself, I am not easily intimidated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1,240 Posts; 7,996 Profile Views

Myself, my husband, and my best friend are nurses; all with varying degrees of step-down, cardio, and ER experience. When I was in a car accident and spent a few days in the surgical ICU, they referred to us as "The nurse room, real nurses- the good kind, not the other kind" in report😂. We all totally understood what "the other kind" meant. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

3 Followers; 1 Article; 1,324 Posts; 19,080 Profile Views

Or the new grad who is a month into orientation, LOL. If you wouldn’t behave this way in front of your preceptor, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your behavior. 

It’s been a pretty eye-opening experience, and it’s caused me to be a lot more thoughtful about how I present myself and work with the team when my family is hospitalized (above all expressing appreciation  and gratitude for our awesome nurses). 

Edited by adventure_rn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

149 Posts; 326 Profile Views

Only once I had a med secretary say that her dads pleursy was from a UTI. I laughed at her which prob wasn’t the best idea but I was quitting a week later to start med school so I didn’t care. She said she was unsatisfied with the diagnosis since it shouldn’t hurt that bad or something silly of that nature. Guess she wanted him to have lung cancer or something? Otherwise I’ve never had a problem with medical people. Even doctors as patients have seemed nice

Usually the Google moms are worse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

13 Followers; 4,056 Posts; 31,246 Profile Views

1 hour ago, adventure_rn said:

It’s been a pretty eye-opening experience, and it’s caused me to be a lot more thoughtful about how I present myself and work with the team when my family is hospitalized (above all expressing appreciation  and gratitude for our awesome nurses).  

Ditto. There are lots of little things I try to do/not do (make sure to say pleases/thank yous, refrain from random convo--with nurse or family member--while nurse administering medications or needs to concentrate, don't speak when my FM can speak for him/herself, move completely out of the way if the nurse needs to be on my side of the bed, etc., etc., etc).

I have even endured discomfort in my attempts to not be "that nurse," like one time I watched a few IV attempts (on myself) involving super bad technique like burying the needle all the way to the hub before trying to slide the catheter off (ow). The nurse was getting a little exasperated so I said, "You can do this. Would it be okay if I helped a little?" He agreed and I coached the next attempt and it went right in. He was newer and had never noticed the little tab on angiocaths for pushing the catheter off the stylet...and apparently thought the proper sequence of events was 'bury the whole thing in the patient's arm then pull the stylet out.' (Again...ouch.)

So. I think I have proven I am not that nurse.  👼🏽

Edited by JKL33

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

kakamegamama specializes in MCH,NICU,NNsy,Educ,Village Nursing.

1,030 Posts; 15,846 Profile Views

I usually try to not let people know I am a nurse. Sometimes I am not successful, like when I tell nursing students wearing their stethoscopes in a bbq restaurant while eating bbq that that is not the right thing to do.......but, as a patient I am pretty good at pretending to not know a single thing.  Some days, that is not hard, and I may not be pretending....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

14 Followers; 3,682 Posts; 38,029 Profile Views

When they start explaining things to me I usually tell them I'm a nurse.  That's just so they don't have to work so hard to be clear when I already understand.  I then follow by saying I have no experience in that particular specialty, so they know where I'm at.

I agree the ones making the biggest noise about being nurses usually aren't. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

149 Posts; 326 Profile Views

On 2/25/2020 at 5:28 PM, kakamegamama said:

I usually try to not let people know I am a nurse. Sometimes I am not successful, like when I tell nursing students wearing their stethoscopes in a bbq restaurant while eating bbq that that is not the right thing to do.......but, as a patient I am pretty good at pretending to not know a single thing.  Some days, that is not hard, and I may not be pretending....

OMG LOL those people are the worst. We had some dude in my class in med school wear his scrubs a surg cap and booties into Starbucks. 

Everyone I went to nursing school with back in the day was pretty normal minus a couple but not obnoxious enough to wear stuff in publix

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

3 Followers; 1 Article; 1,324 Posts; 19,080 Profile Views

4 hours ago, sevensonnets said:

Yes, usually the ones who squawk the loudest and throw "I'm a nurse" into every conversation tend not to actually be nurses. "I'm in the "medical field myself" generally translates to "I mop floors in a nursing home." After nearly 41 years as a nurse myself, I am not easily intimidated.

You reminded me of a head-scratching incident I had completely forgotten about.

I once cared for a baby whose mom initially claimed to be a nurse, turned out to be an NA/unit secretary. The mom was a few days post-C-section and mentioned to me that she didn't feel as though her pain was being adequately managed. As usual, I encouraged her to let her nurse and provider know (again, I wasn't even her nurse, I was the baby's nurse).

Her response was, "Sure, but could you get me the phone number for the House Supervisor so I can let them know?"

This lady knew enough about healthcare to realize that the House Supervisor role exists, and that this person can make dissatisfied patients happy, but she clearly had no understanding of how that process actually works.

I tried to kindly explain that, no, I can't just 'give her' the House Supervisor's phone number (just like I'm not going to give a patient the direct phone number to an attending's work phone, either). More importantly, it would be entirely inappropriate for me (not her nurse) to call on behalf of her (not even a patient in our unit) to request that the House Supervisor (head of literally all of the nurses in the entire hospital) go over the heads of her actual nurses/doctors to pressure them into giving her more pain meds (which she had not previously asked for more of).

It reminded me of a patient being dissatisfied with the cafeteria food and asking for the direct number to the CEO. Yes, we want to hear your concerns, but that is the entirely incorrect approach to address them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

10 Followers; 3,547 Posts; 25,748 Profile Views

I, just recently, had a patient that requested I use a large cuff on her because a smaller one gives “too high a reading”. I explained to her that I would use the correct size cuff ( regular adult) in order to get an accurate reading. A too large one reads low and a too small one reads high. She said “I’m an RN and you can just stop talking now.” What a nasty creature. Kinda wanted to kick her in the shin. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×

This site uses cookies. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Read our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies to learn more.