Nurses Calling Patients "Jerks"

  1. I am a new nurse, and I hope I don't ever become one of these nurses. I work on a demanding medicine floor, where many patients become quite needy and require a lot of attention from the nurses. I have been appalled to notice that some of the nurses on my floor resort to bashing patients while they are at the nurses station. I have heard some of them refer to certain difficult patients as jerks (or worse), and if told by the CNA or another nurse that their patient needs pain meds, they roll their eyes and in a huff go to pain scale them.

    I don't know if I am wrong in feeling the way I do. I know how hard our jobs are and I realize it's therapeutic for nurses to vent about their work, but this just seems to go beyond venting. I don't feel patients deserve to be name-called at all. Some of these nurses are also the same ones that say on report that certain patients are difficult to handle in some way, but then when I have them, I get along with them very well (except for one old lady I once had, she was nice to no one, but I never bashed her with other nurses). So I take with a grain of salt what nurses report to me about the patient's demeanor. Perhaps I have a different approach? Sometimes I do give off a "I will take great care of you but I won't tolerate crap" approach. Perhaps also because I am male? Who knows.

    Thanks for listening. This has been bugging me for a little while and just wanted to put it out there.
  2. Visit PacoUSA profile page

    About PacoUSA, BSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '09; Posts: 3,522; Likes: 3,428


  3. by   Nascar nurse
    Some patients really are jerks....some nurses are jerks too. You are correct that it is not professional to be bashing/name calling at the nurses station. My best advice is to just stay out of the drama and do your own job.
  4. by   OCNRN63
    Just wait till the glow of being a new nurse fades. You're going to find that some patients really are jerks; the issue is being able to suppress your frustration while you're caring for them and vent outside of the patients' earshot.

    People can be jerks outside the hospital. Just because now they're patients doesn't mean they become angels.

    Be thankful that's all you heard people call patients. There are far worse things I've heard.
  5. by   Altra
    Consider this: so far in your life, have you noticed that some percentage of the general population are jerks? The same percentage applies to your patient population.
  6. by   Stephalump
    I was raised to believe that name calling (even something as tame as "jerk") is not cool and I sill believe that, although I reserve the right to feel any way I want about someone and if I need to vent, so be it.

    My problem with the issue is that it's being done at the nurse's station. Totally unprofessional and inappropriate. I don't care how douchey the pt is - insulting a customer/patient/client at work isn't ok in any profession, and nurses aren't excluded from that
    What's worse to me than the pt in question overhearing is someone who ISN'T the pt overhearing. Everyone thinks everything they hear in the hospital is about them.

    Of course sometimes someone will treat you so badly you won't care if you're being unprofessional. I get it and I wouldn't stone you, but that doesn't technically make it ok. It just makes it understandable.
  7. by   Esme12
    Unfortunately......there are people that deserve to be called jerks, or worse. The problem I have as well is saying it at the nurses station. Patients hear much more than the staff believe so that should not be a behavior for the station. I have absolutely said some very unattractive things about various patients throughout my career and trust me when I say they deserved every word. But I never spoke about it at the station.

    There will come the day that you will feel a patient has been a real donkey behind to you and it will make you hurt and angry. There are some really nasty people out there and you are only human. You aren't less of a nurse for being human what makes you more of a nurse is how you handle the situation.

    I wish you the best.
  8. by   blondy2061h
    If I have a rude, insulting patient who is in the hospital for 6 weeks, and I keep having to take care of him, in 12 hour increments, knowing each time I go in the room I'll be hit with a barrage of insults, I would rather insult him at the desk than in the room.
  9. by   workingharder
    I've had very few patients/residents that I would classify as jerks. It may be that I've been lucky. Or, it may be that in real life I look like an old, grizzled "Hell's Angel" biker. Not my persona at all, but I use it to my advantage. Here's a general rule of thumb: about 6% of the population are, and always will be braying jackasses.
  10. by   Cold Stethoscope
    Quote from Paco-RN
    Perhaps also because I am male?

    I have no statistics, but I think that, in general, people are less apt to bully a man than a woman in most cultures.
  11. by   dudette10
    The worst patient I've had so far called me stupid and a dumbass. He hurled expletives at me as soon as I walked in the room. He called the CNA working with me on care a fat ass.

    This guy was alert and oriented and angry at the world for reasons unbeknownst to me.

    Yes, he was a jerk. I make no apologies for my assessment of his personality.
  12. by   netglow
    OP, your turn is coming. Probably on your next shift. You just spun the karma wheel of fortune.

    So. When you &$#)*!#$% them out, just train yourself to do it as a whisper. I prefer to use the effword, as much as possible. I also don't move my lips when I do it, just like a ventriloquist. I do it as I leave the room, in the hall though.
  13. by   BrandonLPN
    Maybe you should just loosen up and pull the stick out. You're going to have a long, loooong nursing career ahead of you of you get your feathers ruffled every time another nurse rolls her eyes or calls a pt a 'jerk'.
  14. by   PacoUSA
    Let me just clarify that I was on this same unit for months as a student before I was hired on as staff 2 months ago, so I have had ample opportunity to work with many of these difficult patients, while also recognizing that I still have more to see. Sure, I may have had negative thoughts about some of them, but never would I vent with the staff in such a negative way. I am very neutral in my comments and don't resort to name calling, and that is just my nature overall. I don't want to develop a reputation for doing things like this. It is presumptuous and false to think that I will become one of these nurses eventually. I am not a 20-something new grad with no life experience. I had a 15-year career before nursing where I worked with even worse clients, clients that were not sick but had other non-health related problems. Never once did I name call them behind their backs. I can't imagine that nursing would change my personality so drastically.