Lawsuit Threats from Family Members

  1. I am employed at an upscale nursing home and the care provided is very good. How do I constructively deal with family members who are threatening to sue the nursing home and its employees? It seems as if family members are becoming more 'empowered' as time passes. What immediate actions should be taken?

    My questions might be construed as goofy; however, I don't have much experience in this arena. Thanks in advance for any replies.
    Last edit by suebird3 on Aug 21, '06 : Reason: cross posting
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    About TheCommuter, BSN, RN

    Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,032; Likes: 69,347
    CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
    Specialty: Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych

    32 Comments

  3. by   canoehead
    Say, "that's certainly your right" and continue what you were doing. They are looking for a reaction, don't give them one.
  4. by   SitcomNurse
    First.. Good luck, difficult family members rarely "lighten up".
    Second... Ask them what SPECIFICALLY their concern is, and if they would like, they can sit with the director of that department(make sure YOUR director is on board with this answer) (ie:nursing/medicine/nutrition/therapy/social services)
    and review what they have told you, and the director can make them aware of the current policy and procedures of that problematic area.
    Third: Dont get ruffled. Canoe is right, they are looking for a reaction, and if they can fluster you, and make you feel inadequate, then you undermine yourself.
    Difficult families are a challenge, but if you handle their concern, and give them the proper venue to discuss it, you have adequately handled it from you job title perspective. It is not your job to dissuade them from accusations, it is your job to let them feel that their concerns are being respected. The worst thing you can do is make a fammily member feel that they are 'just being silly' or that their concerns arent worth investigation.

    Always be a resource, and a patient advocate.
  5. by   jmgrn65
    I think what sitcom has said is excellent advice.
  6. by   zenman
    And if all the above doesn't work, ask them if they want to borrow the yellow pages.
  7. by   Kim O'Therapy
    Quote from zenman
    And if all the above doesn't work, ask them if they want to borrow the yellow pages.

    ROFLMAO!! That is too funny!
  8. by   banditrn
    Quote from zenman
    And if all the above doesn't work, ask them if they want to borrow the yellow pages.
    I'll put that on my list of things I want to say on the day before I give up my license forever.
  9. by   sirI
    Here is a thread about this subject:

    https://allnurses.com/forums/f87/im-...ht=threat+suit
  10. by   snowfreeze
    I just process that type of behavior as a 'Please help me with this question, I am obviously overwhelmed with what is going on with mom or dad and I feel that I need to threaten you"
    I just answer like I would with a proper polite question. The threats are usually not offered again.
  11. by   santhony44
    And remember that some people feature the word "sue" prominently in their vocabulary.

    I think it becomes almost a reflex. Anything in life doesn't go exactly the way they want, they start yelling "sue" to anybody handy.

    I am also convinced that there are people who don't play the lottery, they file lawsuits instead.
  12. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from thecommuter
    i am employed at an upscale nursing home and the care provided is very good. how do i constructively deal with family members who are threatening to sue the nursing home and its employees? it seems as if family members are becoming more 'empowered' as time passes. what immediate actions should be taken?

    my questions might be construed as goofy; however, i don't have much experience in this arena. thanks in advance for any replies.
    [font="comic sans ms"]depends on the situation -- if it's a serious threat (as opposed to an etoher on the cusp of dt's threatening to sue you if you don't bring him a bottle of his favorite) i referr it to risk management, document up the whazoo and make sure my manager knows about it before she hears from risk management. af far as what to actually say to the person -- i'm sure others have better advice.

    if it's the etoher, i've been known to laugh. not a recommended response, to be sure, but sometimes inevitable.
  13. by   CoffeeRTC
    Sometimes I wish they would bring legal action toward the nursing homes. Really. You can only advocate so much and try your darndest to change things, but until a family threatens legal action, nothing changes.

    As long as you are doing your job and documenting, not much else you can do. Just remember the frustration that these families are dealing with on a day to day basis.

    Don't get me wrong, though. I've dealt with my share of the "My mom rang her call bell for 5 minutes and no one came to help or get her a kleenex box, sue happy family" grrrr.
  14. by   lwd338
    I like Canoeheads response I would follow it with "Would you like me to get my manager so you can discuss your concerns??"

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