Okay, I went into work tonight in good spirits. Had a nice group of patients, all except this one pt's family (patient not the problem). I recognized the patient immediately from previous admissions & recalled lots of drama & the MD having long (1hr) talks w/ family in room QD, due to family always being upset/angry.
One family member in particular came in tonight w/ huge chip on the shoulder. It was my 1st night with this patient this admission.I had a feeling that no matter what I did, it wouldn't be right in the family's eyes. They arrived angry, with lots of questions. I tried to address them quickly & thoughtfully.
Without revealing the details, it seems this family member's "final straw" was when they felt "insulted" by something in my tone of voice or choice of words. Our discussion was witnessed by other staff in the hall, who didn't think I was being rude in any way. Nonetheless, I told this family member that I was sorry if I upset them, and that I fully did not intend to offend at all.I spoke in a calm, what I tried to convey (caring) earnest tone. I really did want to help them, despite it all. I told this person that I think there was a misunderstanding, as I really wanted to help, and that it seemed we were having a problem communicating.
This family member was having none of that! They threatened to "punch me out" and made a gesture with the fist. It was witnessed by another staff member. They didn't actually do anything, but when I look back on it, I feel 1)angry (how inappropriate) 2) a little scared (yikes, who knows how unstable this person is?).
There have been multiple medical staff (MD,RN, etc) who will no longer care for this patient due to past experiences w/ the family (another MD "fired patient" last admission).
Now I know why.
People that know me, know I am not a mean spirited person, and several staff told me not to take this episode personally. How can I not? I decided (on my drive home) I am not caring for this patient ever again, period. Tomorrow I will ask for another assignment when I go into work (just not that one patient).
I would be willing to quit my job over it, if it came down to it, to tell you the truth.
I'm not afraid to speak up about this to my nurse manager...we will have to discuss it when she returns to work after Thankgiving.
This has never happened to me before (I work the hospital floors, not ER). Oh sure, I have had confused pts (etoh, or post op) swing at me.But this threat was different- from a stone cold sober angry family member. Of course, I tried the empathy approach & offered support & help to the family, but as I said, there was no reasoning with them. They saw the enemy & it was me.
All my nurse peers were supportive & understanding tonight, but I just feel so sad & emotionally drained. I'm having a hard enough time putting up with the cr@p of nursing as it is, let alone this type of behavior. It makes me want to quit my job and go work on an assembly line again, where I didn't have to deal with people.
Thanks for listening. I needed to vent.
Nov 28, '02
Threatening bodily harm happens to be against the law in California if the person is capable of carrying out that threat.
1) call security and have this person(s) escorted out--don't take NO for an answer
2) a formal, written complaint to your facility AND
3) a formal, written complaint filed with your local police department
4) (and a restraining order, if that seems TO YOU to be called for).
Last edit by sjoe on Nov 28, '02