Would you apologize, if you'd done nothing wrong

  1. A pt complained about a nurse not helping enough. It was a very vague complaint amid a whole string of complaints. Food, the room too cold, too long to wait...
    In the interest of patient satisfaction the nurse was "encouraged" to approach the patient AND family, and apologize for their unhelpful behavior. ( I can't be more specific about the complaint)
    There were no threats of being fired, but management was not going to be happy if the nurse refused. I've offered a fair amount of apologies over the years, but not because someone told me to.
    Would you apologize?
  2. Visit imintrouble profile page

    About imintrouble

    Joined: Dec '09; Posts: 2,904; Likes: 9,251
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 16 year(s) of experience in LTC Rehab Med/Surg


  3. by   loriangel14
    Nope.I did however ,at one time apologize when someone misunderstood a comment I made.I didn't really own up to saying naything wrong but I said I was sorry if I upset them and I clarified what I meant.

    Maybe you need to clarify that you are not the patient's maid.
  4. by   mhy12784
    Nursing is customer service as much as anything.

    If a manager told me I had to apologize to another employee or something then I might consider being pigheaded.

    But unfortunately the patient is always right.

    Of course you gotta word it right, I mean if I wasnt wrong I wouldnt say that I was wrong.

    Id maybe say something like im sorry that youre upset, and hope you have a better experience going forward or something vague.

    Of course thats if theyre my patient again. If theyre not my patient, im not just walking in there to apologize
  5. by   sharpeimom
    What about something like, "I'm sorry you weren't happy about (satisfied with) ___________________, because it has always been my intent to do things properly."

    It sounds as though you feel like I did once when I was 13. I did NOT want to go to a family function. Finally in total frustration, my dad said, "You're going to go! You're going to have a good time and you're going to LOOK as though you're having a good time!" Could you take that attitude when you apologize and realize that you aren't really apologizing for a **** thing?
  6. by   imintrouble
    I could. It just feels too much like enabling a bully.
  7. by   Lev <3
    I would say that I was sorry they are upset and I honestly am sorry because their satisfaction affects my job and my well being.
  8. by   ArtClassRN
    Just give the old "non apology" apology. "I'm sorry you feel that <insert however they say they feel here>. We will try to meet your needs better in the future."
  9. by   MrChicagoRN
    I'm sorry we did not meet your expectations....
  10. by   MatrixRn
    Quote from MrChicagoRN
    I'm sorry we did not meet your expectations....
    Yes, that. ^^^
  11. by   SubSippi
    Apologize on behalf of the hospital, or make a personal apology?

    The fact that the complaint was so vague, in my opinion, points to the fact that the patient's dissatisfaction was NOT the nurse's fault. If a person makes you mad…generally, you know why.

    Depending on my day, I might just apologize and get on with my shift. I don't always have the time or energy to deal with a patient (AND family) who's all butt-hurt.

    Otherwise I might approach them with something like, "I know you're unhappy with some of our services, could you be more specific with where you think we fell short? I'd like to keep this from happening again in the future." If a patient had a valid complaint that just didn't come out right the first time, and could be fixed, I really would like to know, and try to fix it. And if they're being childish, I like for them to have to actually hear themselves SAY the words, "I got grape jelly on my toast when I asked for strawberry, and channel 55 is too fuzzy."

    I probably wouldn't not address a complaint at all. We can have a patient for weeks, and I've found they tend to get even more irritating if they (or their family) feel like they aren't being heard.
  12. by   BlueDevil,DNP
    I agree with the last post. Make them verbalize the issue. If it is significant enough to warrant honest regret, I might apologize. If it is petty customer service crap, I'd say something like: "thank you for sharing your observations with us. We here at HappyFlowerKittyLand Hospital feel it is important to hear the patients out regarding concerns. I'll make sure your comments get their due attention." Then I'd get on with business and not mention it again. I would not be likely to utter the words "I am sorry" and certainly not "I apologize" unless 1) the complaint was legitimate and 2) I was directly at fault.
  13. by   WoosahRN
    I know what you mean to say but I don't agree that the patient is always right. That is why we are the trained medical professionals and they are seeking our help.

    The family that wants a "24 hour break" from all medical care, vitals and assessments while in the ICU with a new diagnosed leukemia is not always right. The family that wanted me to apologize because they didn't think we spoke "nicely" to their combative teenage son who bit me (resulting in a bloody hand) and attempted to hit me and coworkers while screaming he was going to rape us all, was not right. Families (or patients) who scream that we are "abusing" their family member because they are NPO and vomiting with a compromise airway, are not right. I understand that things are getting tricky in the "customer service" era of healthcare but it doesn't mean our skills and education get tossed aside and I'm not willing to be sweet for the sake of making a family member feel in control. It is these exact situations that, if not dealt with in a firm (but calm) manner, lead to some serious boundary issues and then staff is always having issues. Not to say that negotiating and education can't happen and dealing with the real issue isn't appropriate (fear, poor coping, new diagnosis) but to say they are always right is allowing people to immediately have misperceptions of our roles and expertise. I will add the note that I think it's important to listen. They know themselves or their child best. Or they might reveal something that is comforting or soothing. But it doesn't mean that we humor their all egg diet they read on a website will shrink their brain tumor (in lieu of treatment) because they feel that they are right.
  14. by   jadelpn
    It is all about perception. If the patient has a string of complaints--there is a few of those that do not pertain to you as the nurse. I would ask the manager if case managment might be a good person to meet with the patient and you so that ALL of the complaints can be addressed. (Cause unless you are preparing food for this patient, you have no control over the quality of the food). A case manager (who hopefully is creating a good and swift discharge plan) can address things with other disciplines besides yourself.

    I would address this as "going forward, I want to be sure that we are communicating appropriately, and that your needs for NURSING CARE are met" "We will discuss your plan for the day when I arrive to assess you. Then I will be rounding every hour. Should you need anything in the meantime, please use your call bell".

    When we all have to use phrases such as "excellent care" and "I have the time" it sets up unrealistic expectations. Of course we want to provide good care. However, with a number of other patients in our patient load, we do NOT always "have the time". I am not suggesting sub-standard care, merely pointing out that multiple complaints--some of which are not in our control--are things that could be addressed by other disciplines--as we are not private nurses with one patient.

    Instead of a "I'm sorry" you could address this as "we have a miscommunication" and go forward from there. Unfortunetely, if you are in a place where you are sorry-ing patients without some sort of plan, then tomorrow the pillow will be too flat, your tone of voice will need to change, it is too dark/bright in the room......

    Keep on reinforcing the "plan". Document when you round each hour. Get case management involved. Frankly, if one is consumed with the temperature and food, then one start making plans to go home.