Disrespectful Doctors!

  1. Hello All-

    I've read several-THOUSAND posts on this board about doctors disrespecting and yelling at nurses.
    My question is - is the nurse allowed to YELL BACK, or does he/she have to sit back and take whatever the doctor is saying to him/her? Are nurses punished for NOT taking crap from doctors? All advice and/or stories are welcome.

    I'll be entering a BSN program in August. Once I become an RN, I have NO PLANS on letting a doctor disrespect me simply because he/she is a 'doctor'.

  2. Visit crp2000 profile page

    About crp2000

    Joined: Nov '02; Posts: 43; Likes: 1
    Case Manager


  3. by   gwenith
    Most of the time the doctors are respectful, nice and just people. They have thier good and bad days. The days you get reamed are fortunately fairly few.

    However you might find yourself accepting more passively than you would now expect. When you enter the nursing world a process of socialization into that world occurs. It is sometimes called the hidden curriculum. YOu don't kick up a fuss because no-one else does and the peer pressure kicks in to be accepting and passive. This is one of the reasons why nurses are notoriously difficult to rouse to action and the term "nursing activist" is almost an oxymoron.
  4. by   nursemouse
    Yelling back reduces you to the same, crude, out-of-control level. Calm but assertive responses often get a better response. ("I realize that your lab results are not back, but calling me an ignorant schmuck with the IQ of a gnat is not appropriate. I am a professional, and I expect to be treated with courtesy.") It's also helpful, not with just doctors but with any colleague, to determine if the person is yelling at you or at the situation. And WRITE THE OFFENDING DOCTOR UP!!! Every hospital has to have a chain of command to deal with inappropriate physician behavior. Some are stronger than others, but multiple complaints about one physician should get attention. Verbal abuse is a power thing, and we are not subordinates, but colleagues.
  5. by   Furball
    Just last week I had to deal with a rude MD (tis a rare occurance)

    I calmly told him that if I'm responsible for every little thing that happens or doesn't happen in this hospital, then I'm way over due for a huge ass raise....he laughed and calmed down.
  6. by   gwenith
    Good responses Nursemoouse and furball. I reread what I wrote and I think I was suffering acute jadedness and cynicism. Ah well....
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I find it MUCH more satisfactory to RISE above it....I never yell back, but I DO let them know politely I won't be treated like a doormat either. They are professionals and must be dealt with as such, but SO ARE WE as NURSES! It is incumbent on us to ACT as professionals.
  8. by   Furball
    Originally posted by gwenith
    Good responses Nursemoouse and furball. I reread what I wrote and I think I was suffering acute jadedness and cynicism. Ah well....
    Yet, when I read your post I was nodding in agreement. Nurses are their own worst enemy at times.
  9. by   niteshiftnurse
    I also agree with the above. We had a doctor who told a nurse
    "You wouldn't make a good goat herder in my country" To this day, he isn't allowed to get on the elevator if this nurse is on it
  10. by   nimbex
    I think there is a huge difference in the attack being personallly insulting, or ranting over a situation, not directed at anyone.

    Also knowing the doc., if you've never heard them raise their voice before.... cut them some slack, be calm and try to help resolve it. Get them aside..." you seem very upset, is it this incident or are you having an overall crappy day?" hell, they need to vent sometimes too.

    a personal, degrading attack warrents a calm "when you have control of your tone and wish to discuss your patient, I'll be sitting there", turn your back and leave.

    My favorite, the silent STARE.... long silence after they have finally shut up, if they don't do a 180 I may throw in "are you done yet?", Still not done, call the supervisor and fill out the incident report.

    Many people may disagree, but I believe doc's are people too and deserve a "bit" of slack, God knows I need it some days too, but don't dare come round thinking you'll treat me like dirt and get away with it.
  11. by   llg
    I agree with the overall tone of the previous posts in this thread. "Two wrongs do not make a right." It's an old saying, but true. Yelling back or being rude in return are not the appropriate way to handle the situation when someone mistreats you. As others have said, doctors are people, too -- and sometimes they have bad days and say react in ways they regret later. Inflaming the situation further and/or stirring up hard feelings that will last for years is no way to handle it.

    In my 26 years of nursing, I have only been "yelled at" or similarly mistreated a couple of times. I think it is partly because I choose to work in positive environments where "uncalled-for behavior" is exactly that -- uncalled-for and NOT part of the organization's culture. Also, I tend not to have a "smart mouth" or "unprofessional demeanor" that invites that kind of response in others. I treat others politely and professionally and let it be known that I expect to be treated the same way. When I am not treated politely, I let the person know (firmly but politely) that I expect better. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and try to support them when they are having a bad day -- and let people know that I expect to be treated the same way.

    In the end, I think the way we treat other people and the work environment that we and our colleagues create with our own behavior has a big influence on the way others treat us. Nurses represent a large proportion of most healthcare environments. So, the culture in those environments is subject to our influence.

    Of course, there is always that rogue person out there who is just not nice and who will cause trouble ocassionally. That behavior needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand -- by the nursing staff agreeing to not tolerate it and to follow-up on it a calm, professional manner.

    I know this post sounds a bit "preachy," and I didn't mean it too. I'm sorry about that. It's Monday morning and I am not yet fully energized to re-write it to make it more appealing! I hope you all understand.

  12. by   crp2000
    Thank you all for your responses.
    Upon graduating in 2005, I will be extremely proud to be among the ranks of such tactful and professional individuals such as yourselves.
  13. by   Scavenger'sWife
    I agree with all the above opinions.

    I especially like the one that advises if you have not heard that particular MD raise his/her voice before, you should maybe allow them to vent.

    We have one MD who ALWAYS yells and carries on for any little thing. Then he yells on & on & on....He pulled this on me once, started yelling about a mistake that pharmacy had made. I said in a very firm voice (about three times) "I agree with what you are saying. NOW: WHAT do you want ME to do about it?" He finally heard me and was pretty polite then.

    Another time, I initiated cardiac protocol on a female patient and got reamed over the phone by her cardiologist. He said she was a long-time pt of his, and he "knew" she was "just a mental case who really needs a psych consult", and that I should not have done what I did. (Pt was c/o CP of 7-8 midsternal, SOB, "I feel like I'm gonna die", high BP, PVC's on her monitor and tachy - I called lab for cardiac enzymes, ordered stat 12-lead EKG, and put her on O2 @ 2L/NC..........*****!!) I looked up this MD in person later in the day, and asked him what I did that was wrong....he admitted I was right and he apologized. He said I did "everything exactly as you are supposed to do it".

    This is only two examples. Sure, when you are a newbie, you shake in your shoes to confront a doctor. But DON'T let one run all over you when you are not at fault. And *IF* you ARE at fault, please admit it, apologize, and ask what you can do to correct it. Usually you get respect for this attitude. (Just be sure you learn from your mistake and don't do it again! ......at least NOT with the SAME doctor! heehee)
  14. by   fergus51
    I don't yell back. I have only lost it once with a doctor and it was with no patients present. I find more creative ways to deal with them. I document what they say word for word and write up an incident report if it is really bad. I usually just repond to rudeness with "I'm here for the patient. If you're done venting and would like to discuss her care we can do so. If not, we're done here and feel free to speak to the charge nurse".