Having A Nurse As A Patient

Nurses Relations

Updated:   Published


I've never posted on here before but would like your opinions. How have you handled difficult patients who are nurses? I've had one ask me off the wall questions to see if I get thrown off and is extra scrutinizing with every task, then proceeded to complain about me to day shift. 


6,658 Posts

Be kind, try to forge a genuine rapport without pandering, and otherwise ignore the negative aspects of the behaviors. My experience has been that the part about forging the rapport is much more likely (and not all that difficult) if you refuse to be provoked by the behaviors. They are looking for someone they can trust. When they can sense that you're spinning in response to what they do, they know they can't trust you.

I believe these to be troubled people.

BTW I could care less if people complain to the next shift about me, as long as I know that I have taken the best care of them that I can. I can't control what they complain about.


2 Posts

Specializes in PCU.

Thank you JKL33 that was very helpful advice!!

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB.

I've been dealing c some painful health issues lately... and with COVID, an aging beloved spouse, an abusive child, death of a beloved pet, and the general issues surrounding a certain public figure and fear for our country (now hopefully resolved).

I am very sorry to say that the usual screw-ups in healthcare (referrals not made, scheduling errors, med errors, EHR errors, miscommunications between providers, multiple long drives to providers and hospitals and labs ...) have not made me more patient with putting up with them. You know that cartoon about "I only have one nerve left and you're getting on it"? That's me. I've cried more in anger and frustration in the last three months than I have in the last ten years, and I'm usually thought of as a tough cookie.

Best thing to do with somebody like me, nurse or not, is to be my nurse: assume that life has not been easy lately, be calm, realize it's not your fault, you can't know what I'm dealing with, explain everything as if I might not understand (sometimes I don't and appreciate the updates), apologize when there is a screw-up, and kill me with kindness (not errors, though, thankyouverymuch).

I did send flowers to my surgeon's office in apology for a blowup when I had really reached the end of my rope. They were thrilled ... because they were just installing EPIC and having a horrible time with it, which had accounted for some of the screwups ... so we're still friends. It's not always about you. Rise above it. I always found that a lot easier to do as a nurse than I do as a patient.


1 Post

Specializes in General Nursing.

healthcare workers make the worst patients, true or not?


7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.

In the past 2 yrs, I've had 3 hospitalizations with 1 rehab/snf  stay. I was BAD SICK the first time, so I know I wasn't the best pt.

But what made the difference for me the last 2 times, was that the nsg staff listened to me - for the person I was, an experienced, retired NURSE.

Sadly, it's almost impossible to 'turn off' the nurse mentality while hospitalized. But just LISTEN TO ME when I know something is wrong for me (and my roomies). Just LISTEN TO ME as amoLucia, the nurse, when I talk to you about amoLucia, the pt. Like we would if we were giving report to one another.

THAT made the difference at the last 2 hospitalizations.

allnurses Guide

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

4 Articles; 4,843 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life).

It's a general rule of thumb that we don't tell hospital staff or clinic staff that I am a nurse except in those case where I've known the physician for a long time. Having worked the the same cpmmunity for close tp 20 years I know several Docs on a first name basis Professionally they will always be "Dr. insert last name here" But if I run into them in the course of daily life we know eachothers aby first names. 

I've been hospitalized 4 times in the last 5 years and in general try to be a very good patient. As far as I ma concered a pitcher of water (If allowed) and and nurses who pay attention to my pain control and mobilty needs is all I really ask for.  That and keeping me informed about change of condition and changes in care plan are essential. Like @amoLucia nurses who listen to me. I remember one particularly bad night when I had and infiltrated IV with the nurse insisting everything was fine (Without even assessing the site) only to have day nurse come on and find my arm hot red a swollen. the situation was quickly resolved with a change of the site and some warm compresses but it sould never have gotten to that. I believe the night nurse didn't want to DC/change the IV site due to the fact that I am a notoriously hard stick, but still no excuse for allowing it to happen. 

So what I tell youn nurses is to remember difficult patients and don't act in the same way. "Be the patient you wish to have!" 


Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB.

A patient who doesn't report adverse events is going to make the nurse look bad when the next shift comes on anyway.


7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.
7 minutes ago, Hannahbanana said:

A patient who doesn't report adverse events is going to make the nurse look bad when the next shift comes on anyway.

So true. This is also a typical ploy that many pts use that tries to pit one staff against another. Like some kind of 'game' that pts enjoy for the 'fun'. Or control.



281 Posts

Specializes in tele, ICU, CVICU.

Is it possible that same patient is also just as scrutinizing towards the next shift?  I would imagine she does/was, unless they're BFF's or something.  In that case, the staff know who the PITA patients are (not that she was a PITA!) but just a general notion, that the other staff members know exactly what she's doing & take her comments/criticism with a grain of salt.  

Specializes in Mental health.

On the unit I worked on. I had to take care of a couple of Dr.'s we worked with. I can tell you that I was scared to death. To be honest they really didn't care for me that much. But somehow in my mind I stopped seeing them as a Dr. and saw them as a patient. One Dr. was in for prostate cancer but refused to take anything for pain when he was noticeably hurting. I talked to his primary concerning this. The primary told me to give it to him anyway. So there I was pain med in my hand and he (Dr./pt) was going off on how he had already told me he didn't need it. So as tenderly as I could, I told him that I had discussed this with his primary "and knowingly that you would refuse. He wants you to take it anyway." He grumbled and then complied to take it. What a transformation of his mood after this. He then complied to future medication and began teaching me some pearls of wisdom he picked up over the years. We were alright working together after this. He realized he was a patient and not on duty. Unfortunately, I got stuck with all future Dr./pt admissions. But it was worth it. Not to say that all of my future Dr./pt stories went this way. But for the most part I didn't worry that much when taking care of future hospital staff. I continued to follow my oath "what's best for the patient attitude" any negative comments they made became just noise as I went on doing my duty.


13 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I've taken care of nurses as patients before. It's either they are super nice or not very nice. It can be a little intimidating at times, but I've learned through the years that we are all just people and no one really has to be treated any different especially in the hospital. We really should not treat anyone special just because of their "position" in society. If you think about it, what makes one patient better or special than the next, really not much in my opinion. It's all about prioritization.

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