Was it verbal abuse? Y/N or maybe?

  1. Hello, first time poster here.
    I've been at my current job for over a week now. I'm eve shift at an LTC. While administering HS insulin to a resident, she frowned and asked, "Why are you guys always poking me?" I explained that I'm giving a long acting insulin to keep her sugars down. She asked why it was so important as to keep poking her with needles. I told her that, if left untreated, it can lead to poor health and effect eyesight. She nodded her head - I bid her goodnight and left.

    I'm wondering if this could be considered verbal abuse.

    The next day, this resident approached me and said "I'm going to tell my son you said I'll lose my eyesight." I asked what she meant - she responded, "That's right, I'm gonna tell him," and walked away.

    I told my DON what transpired - she asked me to write a statement of what happened - and I did. So far, I've heard nothing from her son - nor that she told anything to anyone but myself.

    I've been an LPN for just over a year. Looking back, it was poor judgement to have shared possible disease process consequences to a resident with (supposedly) mild dementia. This resident is fairly independent, and has been described by the faculty as "cantankerous." I'm feeling horrid because I don't remember the exact verbiage I used describing retinopathy. All I know is that I meant to reassure her that she was getting treatment to keep her healthy. Not 'if you don't take insulin - you're going to be blind.' I also know that intent doesn't always matter as much as the effect of words. I'm feeling guilty, and I can't quite place why.

    Can it be considered verbal abuse if you describe the consequences of an untreated disease process?
  2. Poll: Can what was said be constituted as verbal abuse?

    • Yes

      1.11% 1
    • No

      97.78% 88
    • Possibly

      1.11% 1
    90 Votes / Multiple Choice
  3. Visit RivkaLev profile page

    About RivkaLev

    Joined: Feb '18; Posts: 3; Likes: 14
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience

    37 Comments

  4. by   klone
    I missed where anyone accused you of verbal abuse?
  5. by   Farawyn
    Oh, Good Lord, NO!!!

    Who said it was "verbal abuse"?
  6. by   Jedrnurse
    You're being way too hard on yourself. It wasn't even poor judgment, let alone verbal abuse...
  7. by   caliotter3
    Your post brought back not-so-fond memories of working in LTC. I can certainly understand your concern. I would not get too caught up in trying to devise verbiage to keep from disturbing those with mild cognitive deficits. You will find over time that they will mix things up despite your best efforts.
  8. by   RivkaLev
    I should have clarified - no one has accused me of verbal abuse as of yet. However, when I shared with the resident the possible consequences of untreated diabetes, it seemed to have made her upset - even though she didn't indicate this at the time. I'm just wondering if what I said could be considered verbal abuse or coercion simply because it caused the resident to become upset - regardless of my intent (which was to reassure and comfort her).
  9. by   Wuzzie
    I think if a family member makes a stink about this I would hand them discharge papers and let them know that if they think their confused family member was no longer confused then they no longer needed long term care and we would be happy to help them pack.
  10. by   RNperdiem
    People get upset and then they get over it. I would never have classified describing diabetic care as anything abusive.
  11. by   Farawyn
    Quote from RivkaLev
    I should have clarified - no one has accused me of verbal abuse as of yet. However, when I shared with the resident the possible consequences of untreated diabetes, it seemed to have made her upset - even though she didn't indicate this at the time. I'm just wondering if what I said could be considered verbal abuse or coercion simply because it caused the resident to become upset - regardless of my intent (which was to reassure and comfort her).
    Don't overthink it. It seems you acted completely appropriately.
  12. by   RivkaLev
    Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment. The situation looks more cut and dry upon reflection. It's bizarre, I'm not usually one to make a mountain out of a molehill. This particular situation bothered me because I felt a bite of guilt - and I cannot place why. Ad to it the fact that it happened just before my 3 days off - and I get to stew over it. Oh well, laundry and wine should take care of my overthinking brain.
  13. by   Meriwhen
    Quote from RivkaLev
    Can it be considered verbal abuse if you describe the consequences of an untreated disease process?
    The fact that you state the consequences of an untreated disease process is in itself not verbal abuse. HOW you choose to deliver that message is where the potential for verbal abuse lies.

    In your case, you were not verbally abusive. Honest, yes. Verbally abusive, no.

    Though bear in mind that if your message is not something that they want to hear, the recipient is going to see things--and you--as being worse than they actually are. But there's little you can do about that.
  14. by   klone
    I once told a woman with an A1c of 13 who was trying to get pregnant and a previous miscarriage that she needs to start taking care of herself and her diabetes or she will have another miscarriage or a baby with birth defects, and that it is quite likely that is why she miscarried before. That is probably the harshest I've ever been on a patient, but she was truly in denial that her uncontrolled DM had anything to do with her health and pregnancy.
  15. by   JKL33
    OP, I understand why you might be worried about others' perceptions. I just wanted to mention that you can go too far with second-guessing yourself to the point where, for all practical purposes, you end up inviting others to do the same. I don't think you did anything wrong here, including mentioning it to your DON. Just the same, when you know (cognitively and emotionally) that you've done nothing wrong and yet (if you were to) repeatedly bring even the slightest self-doubt to others' attention, they will begin to believe that you either don't have good judgment or perhaps are emotionally unstable - - which may lead them to ascribe even more negative traits to you. When you know your actions were well-intentioned and correct, it's okay to just kind of pleasantly carry on with things and don't give others the opportunity to twist it.

    Don't be afraid to kindly/gently say something like, "Mary, I'm glad you've been thinking about our conversation yesterday, but that's not exactly what I said...." then restate the information.

    These things absolutely are part of your role - you did a good job.

    Take care ~

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