What to do in family emergency situations?

  1. Two weeks ago at the beginning of my shift when I was passing meds, my husband called crying because his Dad coded twice in a hospital and was transfered to ICU. He wanted me to come up immidietely because he is afraid his Dad won't make it.

    I was emotionally too. I talked to my boss. She said they will try find someone as soon as they can so I can leave. In the mean time, she told me to finish my med pass. With my coworker's help, I finished med pass in about five minutes, then I sat at the nurses station and wait for the charge nurse to tell me what to do. She walked down the hall twice for something else like nothing happened. She eventually came up to the desk and told me that the rest of the nurses will take two extra pts of mine. When I gave reports to the charge nurse, she grilled me about the pt I just got for one hour. For example, I have to check in the computer for her what type of dressing the pt has for his cellulitis.

    Anyway, I finally left 45 minutes later and by the time I got to the hospital, my father-in-law has already passed away.

    Now the more I think about it, the more I became angry. There were no other emergency in the unit that day, why the charge nurse has to take so long to take my report? Why she can't look for the dressing information in the computer herself?

    It is the first time this happened to me. I know I can't just leave because it counted as abandoning pts and my license can be suspended. However, is it common practice to expect you to stay 45 minutes when your family memeber is dying? and I'm not even talking about the grandparents.
    Last edit by treeye on Sep 26, '12
  2. Visit treeye profile page

    About treeye

    Joined: May '10; Posts: 107; Likes: 93


  3. by   hiddencatRN
    That's crappy. We've had employees with family emergencies way more minor than that who we've covered and gotten to their families way faster than that.

    I'm so sorry about your father in law. *hugs*
  4. by   CrunchRN
    It is crummy and yes it is common. They can take a while to work out staffing issues like that. That is why it is best to find a place with a great team who will pull together for you and you for them.
  5. by   itsnowornever
    I am so sorry that happened! Could it be that she was just mad you were leaving? When you are feeling more together emotionally, you can always ask to establish a protocol for situations like this for the future for everyone else....kinda like an "emergency list" and put in the steps of what will happen in the even of a future issue similar to this so there is no waiting around and emergencies can be handled.
  6. by   Blackcat99
    Sorry to hear about your loss. Yes it is crummy. I remember many years ago how badly a CNA was treated at a LTC. While she was at work one day, her house TOTALLY burned to the ground and her 5 dogs were killed in the fire!!!! She had worked at the LTC for many years. Management told her she could only have 2 days off and if she wasn't back to work by the 3rd day she would be fired.
  7. by   squatmunkie_RN
    Wow. That's the time to quit. But I guess she couldn't have done that being recently homeless! Damn mgmt can be a soulless bunch of people.
  8. by   LCinTraining
    I don't think quitting will solve anything. In fact the psych books all say to avoid major life changing decisions while grieving. Keep things consistent for how. When you are calm speak with her, and ask why this information couldn't have been dealt with quicker. However, getting angry will solve nothing. You had no guarantee he would have been alive when you got there, even if you left right away. We accept these responsibilities working with patients. It's a sad situation, but true. In the meantime, get ahold of HR. let them know you need to take your bereavement time. Now is the time you need off to be with your family. So you can grieve together, and recuperate together. I wish your family peace during this time. I wish you comfort too. Even though he is an in law, it doesn't meant he wasn't an important part of your life. Give yourself time to feel and to heal.
  9. by   JZ_RN
    Although that sucks and I feel for you, that's the reality when your job is to be responsible and care for others. If you were a teacher and had a family emergency, you'd have to wait for a sub to get there or something until you could leave. What if you were a police officer, can you just leave your job? A surgeon?
  10. by   Flyboy17
    That goes to show you the integrity of your charge nurse. If I were in that situation I would have contacted the Nursing Superviosr right after the Charge Nurse. If a Charge nurse cannot take the kind of responsibility and take care of her nurses, she does not need to be in that postion, Period.
  11. by   wooh
    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I think that your annoyance is more about missing things than the length of report. 45 minutes really isn't THAT long to completely rearrange staffing. I know it FEELS like a long time when YOU have the family emergency, but...
    Have to hunt down every nurse to tell them they're taking two more patients.
    Probably have to explain to them why so they don't pitch a fit.
    They need to look up the patients.
    You give report to multiple people.
    It's not a normal end/start to a shift, so there needs to be extra clarity about what's already been done, what needs to be done. (Otherwise they're going to have to call you at a likely inappropriate time after you leave, which I'm sure wouldn't be any better than the extra time it takes to be clear.)

    Report normally takes about 30 minutes where I'm at. And 45 minutes is not uncommon. When someone was leaving unexpectedly, I can easily see it taking that long.

    When we've had sudden departures for whatever reason, the majority of the folks on my floor are as accomodating as possible. For me, I'll ask, "Anything that's not in the computer? All meds that you've given charted? Ok, go, I'll figure it out." But I'm WAY more laid back about report than the average nurse. So I really can't fault someone for wanting to make sure they get a good report.

    Unfortunately, in nursing we can't 'just leave" on a moment's notice. It's the same as a lot of jobs. If it took that long to be able to leave your job working as a clerk at the GAP, I'd think that maybe something could have been done to speed things along. But the patients are there and still need care, no matter what's happening in our lives.

    Once again, sorry for your loss. Internet hugs for you and your husband (and the rest of the family.)
  12. by   tewdles
    I think that it was very unprofessional for the manager to NOT expedite your departure from the unit. That delay will surely affect your feelings about the incident and about your employment. It does not represent compassionate leadership, IMHO. Many a manager has set aside administrative duties for short periods to support the nursing staff in times of crisis...is your manager not a nurse?
  13. by   afjgnp
    I am so sorry. Years ago when I was in an abusive marriage and when I was abused, I would call in at my nursing home job. I didn't have the best reputation. One sunday morning, my house caught on fire. The nursing supervisor thaught I was just trying to get out of work, I guess, and made me call the fire dept. to confirm that my house was on fire. Then she went to review orders on another unit. Luckily my parents were in the area and I called them so they could go down. I finally got out of there an hour later. My youngest son was burned( he was 5 at the time) but not seriously. I don't understand why supervisors can't get report and take over. I am so so sorry for your loss and that of your family.
  14. by   imintrouble
    I haven't read any of the other responses because what the OP wrote struck a chord.
    I got a call at work that my daughter, who was in the ER at another facility had coded, and I needed to get there ASAP. My fellow nurses immediately divided my pts and after the briefest of reports sent me on my way. We called the boss, but I don't even remember what she said.
    There was no discussion about the work load. The women I worked with that day saw my distress and helped me in the only way they could.
    Even had I stayed and waited for a replacement, I wasn't thinking clearly.
    On that day, nurses treated one of their own, with the same sense of compassion we are expected to give to pts.
    It's hard for me imagine anyone so cold blooded as to prevent a person from being with family in an emergency
    Last edit by imintrouble on Sep 27, '12