Verbal abuse ... what are my rights? - page 6

So, I work in a facility where it's not uncommon to have patients who are confused and aggressive - out of psych issues or other diagnoses where aggression is an expected stage of their disease... Read More

  1. by   Kooky Korky
    Quote from missmollie
    He's a quad. He can't knock anything around.
    He might have some ability to do so.
  2. by   maxthecat
    I wonder if it would help if you got a Psych Clinical Nurse Specialist to come work with this gentleman on a daily basis for a while. They are experts at letting clients vent and progress to working with the emotional issues and trauma, yet insisting on firm behavioral boundaries with clients toward them and toward other staff who work with clients. This might work or it might not, but it's another avenue to explore.
  3. by   missmollie
    Quote from Wuzzie
    missmollie I really admire you for taking care of these difficult patients and you have certainly given us food for thought. I have a question though, would bringing in personal electronics for a patient's use cross some sort of boundary? In acute care I think it would but how about long term care?
    I don't think so. I often use my cell phone to play music for patients during baths, I've watched depressed patient's perk up when being able to watch movies of their choosing using my ipad. I work in progressive care which means the majority of our brain and spinal patients are there for a while. You're either doing great and in acute care, or poorly and in ICU. If the patient is on progressive care, they have a long road ahead of them. Little things like this add value to their stay, even if the hospital doesn't provide it. I also accept full responsibility that the electronic may get broken or stolen, and I am okay with that.

    I believe it's a personal decision, but this is also how I was raised. I never considered if it was crossing boundaries, and I will have to think about this before deciding if I will change what I do. Often family will not be present, and these patients are so alone.

    I would love to see the hospital provide the ability to check out electronics that can be voice controlled, but with budget restraints I don't see that happening. You've given me something to consider.
  4. by   Here.I.Stand
    Quote from Kooky Korky
    He might have some ability to do so.
    Yup. It's called a SCI at C5-C8.
  5. by   Here.I.Stand
    Quote from missmollie
    I would love to see the hospital provide the ability to check out electronics that can be voice controlled, but with budget restraints I don't see that happening. You've given me something to consider.
    This is something I can absolutely get behind!
  6. by   kp2016
    You should start with a formal complaint to your manager cc HR re the racial slurs. This is a form of discrimination which is a federal offense. Your employee is legally required to protect you.
    This patient is out of control and it is the place of management to have a meeting with him to set reasonable boundaries. Once your formal written compliant for racial discrimination is on the table I have a feel management will be very interested in dealing with his behavior.
  7. by   oldenurselady
    What about a psych consult? Maybe push for psych NP or CNS to see him. Is his paralysis new onset or long standing? Does he have a family? They should be involved too if possible.

    Before the days of "customer service," our manager went in to rooms of offensive patients and laid down the law about appropriate behavior. Most who received a visit, straightened out. We had one nurse file a police report about a vulgar speaking groper in his 40's. These days the manager and administration would probably discipline the nurse. Our manager's response was basically, "He wouldn't go to the mall and talk to people like that. Too bad for him." It is sad this man has lost much of his function, but it is not the fault of your staff.
  8. by   CaffeinePOQ4HPRN
    I worked on an inpatient unit where more than half of the patients were like this, and management was apathetic to the bedside nurse's struggle to provide effective care with this added pressure. Every day was a nightmare, dreading the countdown leading upto our shifts and after our shifts dreading having to return.

    Negative reinforcement helped these types of difficult types of patients to become compliant or at least marginally less combative.

    I left that job, I'd suggest the same for you. In time, an environment like that will cause you to burnout... and you can't care for patients when you yourself become unwell. Look for employment elsewhere with better practice supports and nurse to patient ratios. It's your managements faukt for not trying to effectively address this.
  9. by   CaffeinePOQ4HPRN
    @kookykorky Questionable, but... an aggressive quad patient can certainly bite and spit.
    Last edit by CaffeinePOQ4HPRN on Mar 15
  10. by   hherrn
    Quote from FolksBtrippin
    This behavior is common in quads. Not to insult the many kind and good quads everywhere, but it is common maladaptive coping. Its about control.

    He wants control because he feels he has none. He is not coping well with his dependence on you.

    The best way to respond is to not react emotionally and show total control over yourself.There are certain things you have to do for him no matter how he acts. Just do them, in the order you decide, in the manner you decide, at the time you decide, unless he refuses care. Don't respond to the abuse. Pretend it's the sound of someone else's cell phone-- possibly annoying but not your problem.


    Him: "You ****** dog! I told tou to get your fat *** in here 10 minutes ago!

    You: I'm turning you to your left.

    Him: don't you touch me you *****!

    You: I'll be back in 2 hours to try again.
    (Document refusal of care.)

    2 hours later.

    You: I'm here to turn you to your left.
    Him: b*****! You ******! You should have done that before!
    You: (Turn the patient. No need to speak. Don't explain yourself.)
    Him: I'll report you to the Board! You ****!
    You: (finish your duties and leave. Nothing deserves a response.)

    Just keep doing it that way, with no expectation that he'll change his behavior. You don't actually need him to change his behavior and that is where your power is.
    In general, I agree with your approach. Not validating, not arguing. The OP has a job which is independent of the PTs behavior. Being offended is pointless, and a poor use of energy.

    But, as far as this being a coping issue: Maybe. Also possible the guy is an a**hole. Plenty of people with four functioning extremities are, and having quadriplegia is no protection from this phenomenon.

    Either way, it's not the nurse's problem.

    I would continue to do my job, and document. Absolutely nothing wrong with giving him a bit of a time out, and document your reasons.

    Basically, his current behavior get's him what he wants. As long as this is the case, the behavior won't change.
  11. by   Sunshine.nurse
    Sounds like he is pissed at the world for his paralysis and taking it out on everyone. I feel rather sorry for the staff that has to care for this person. However, shouting racial slurs and cussing at staff is unaccecptable. Management needs find another facility that will accept him (if he has not blown through all of them and they won't refuse to take him back), then call a family meeting and tell the family if he doesn't stop his abusive behavior, they will be forced to cut this guy a 30 day notice. The family should be able to get through to him. Where is the UM? It is part of their jobs to deal with these kinds of issues.
  12. by   mslove717
    I have had patients like this. Common mal-adaptive coping mechanism. They can't move - life sucks. They have lost control. By barking at you, they have some control back. It's totally a psych thing.

    That said, abuse of nursing staff by patients is NEVER okay. They have the right to their anger, but they do not have the right to abuse others because of it. Lay it out to him, straight up tell him I am here to care for you, but you do not have the right to speak to me like this. I am leaving now (after making sure he is stable). And leave.

    If he immediately yells, don't go back right away. Sometimes sending in someone else can help because they have to start a new cycle of control and it can be too much for them right then. It's a tag team effort all shift. One of the first times I dealt with this on a LTC unit, I sat at the nurses station charting as a pt yelled "NURSE" (with a CNA in there, they were fine, they just wanted to control me/making me hop/take up my time because I was new and she was testing waters). After she learned I was not going to be controlled by her, she got better with her verbal abuse and need to control.

    When you're in the room, describe what you are doing, lay out a plan. When the verbal abuse starts you can say - no, you are not speaking to me like that. If it continues you say I am leaving now, you are stable and I will not be treated like this. You HAVE to be firm and let them know you are not the punching bag for their anger.
    Last edit by mslove717 on Mar 20
  13. by   MsQueensRN
    Happens all the time, at least your patient is immobile and cannot additionally throw things or attempt any physical harm. I have had many a patient like yours, and once it goes racial I absolutely refuse to provide care. Is there any possibility of arranging a behavioral contract with this individual? If they have a psych disorder then this is not an option, however if there is no psych issue then this may be a route to consider. It would usually involve the patient's doctor, social work, and the nurse manager creating a specific set of terms or expectations of the patient's behavior. If the patient goes against these terms, there are specified repercussions that can include discharge (as long as their condition permits).