Unprofessional professionals

  1. We're all professionals so what do we do when our fellow professionals say rude, racist or mean things about other health care workers and even patients?

    I was recently on a maternity/gynecology floor listening to morning report and when we got to one patient a nurse said, "She's a beached whale!".

    In the OR one doctor commented that he hoped the next patient wasn't so fat.

    On an ortho floor a nurse helping a patient to bed talked to another nurse as if the patient wasn't even there! ("It would be easier if she'd lift her legs more, I don't know why she's always so difficult when we get her up) Then was shocked when she asked the patient if she was comfortable and the patient answered "As if you'd give a flying f**k!".

    I am really bothered by this. I've spoken to people about it who seem to think that overworked nurses are destined to become so busy that they forget the patient is a person, and there's no changing that. What do you all think is the best way to act in these situations?
  2. Visit fergus51 profile page

    About fergus51

    Joined: Jul '00; Posts: 11,351; Likes: 387


  3. by   rncountry
    The bane of nursing, educated people who behave ignorantly. What do you do? Stand up for what is appropriate. You may not be popular, but you will always be able to look yourself in the mirror. Personally I liked the patients reply. I bet that kept ringing in that ignorant nurses ear for awhile.
  4. by   LaurieCRNP2002
    Regardless of what patients we may be assigned to during a particular shift, we can't lose sight of the fact that these are people, human beings just like us. Yes, patients may be rude, obnoxious or abusive, but we must maintain a certain level of professionalism, no matter how much we feel like telling them off, or whatever. We must be assertive--there is a diplomatic way to deal with patients who are uncooperative. Recently, I was taking care of a lady who was more or less "barking orders" at me and being just plain obnoxious. When I had gotten her settled so she could wash up, I left the room and was summoned by a doctor who had been sitting at a nearby counter doing his charting. I thought this doctor was going to ream me out;instead, he told me how impressed he was that I kept my cool despite the fact that the patient was treating me rudely. It was such a refreshing change to get validation from a colleague (and a doctor, no less!) that we deserve to be treated with respect, just as much as the patient does. Most patients ARE appreciative of what they do...I think we need to remember that they may be overwhelmed by the health care system, their illness, etc. Yes, there may be a few who "push our buttons" or try our patience, but we can't let those few dampen our compassion for the rest of the patients who need us.

    Laurie, RN
  5. by   Jo_deye_yuh
    We are taught to listen to pts' c/o, to understand that their hospital stay is a scary, sometimes traumatic experience. That disease and illness is depressing to that individual, which may increase irritability. Some may have had a previous hospital experience that was not favorable...re: cares given, lack of explanation of dx/tx, or overall feeling of neglect.

    I reflect back to when I gave birth to my son and the hospital experience I endured. The memory of rude nurses really sticks. They left my baby with me in my bed the whole night. I was so afraid of falling asleep and dropping him over the edge of the bed or laying on him, I didn't sleep a wink. They only checked on me 2 times during the night. Even when I pressed the call light, I didn't get a response. They didn't display compassion, concern or interest. I recieved near to nil pt teaching and instruction, etc. I felt I would have gotten better treatment and information if I had my baby in aisle 9 at Walmart.

    Or I reflect back to when I had a double bilateral supranumerary mastectomy. It was a rushed dx and surgery et I was soooo scared, ignorant and confused. I can only remember one positive thing out of that whole experience...the RN trying to start my IV...after the 5 tries on the right failed, she was attempting to get one started on the left. She was so real and genuine. She didn't buffalo me or treat me like an object. She "talked" to me, reassured me and made me feel a little more comfortable in the foreign, cold environment I was frightened of. That is something we tend to fail to see. Just because we are used to our floor/dept and routine, does not mean we should forget that our pts are unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

    Yes, the hectic pace of our day tends to leave only a speck of time for rushed, cold explanations. In our automatic, robotic fashion, we explain a procedure for the 103rd time to a new patient that is unfamiliar to the procedure. Monotoned and rushed, what did the pt get from it? Nothing. They were more concerned with how the information was presented, than what the information actually was. How would you like things explained to you? How would your like to be treated while being assisted to the bathroom, knowing your body isn't working like it used to or you hope it to? How would you feel if you were layed up in a hosp bed for days, no makeup, no foo-foo scent, major bad hair day, feeling ugly, depressed, lonely, confused, in pain, and bored out of your mind, so all you can think about is the list above? What would you think if, while laying prisoner in your bed, you could hear the nurses at the nurse's station giggling and snikkering, or talking negativly about a co-worker or dr, or b**ching about this-n-that with regards to their job, or c/o and making fun of the patient next door? How would you feel? What would you think of that hospital or staff? What do you think the lasting memory would be?...the colorless, tasteless meals, the Dukes of Hazaard re-runs seen on the wall mounted T.V., or the disdain and ill-treatment recieved?

    How much can you handle? We are human and have feelings too. The constant verbal, mental, and physical abuse nurses recieve takes its toll. The stress and fatigue mount. The backstabbing and cut downs between co-workers, adds insecurity and hostility. Personality conflicts mixed with heavy work loads, leads to a catastrophe.

    We are human. We find humor in things, albeit sometimes demented due the the field of work we are in. But if you were the patient, and a nurse or doctor was making fun of your anatomy, etc., or if the patient was your mom, dad, grandparent...would it still be as funny? Laughing and humor does help reduce stress, but if it offends, the stress is only redirected, not relieved.

    We are not in the business of computers or cars, that don't think, feel, cry, worry, laugh, question, or remember. We are in the business of 'people'. They are not objects to talk coldly about, or to shove around hurridly, (patients, their families and co-workers).

    The variety of personalities that encompass the medical profession, makes it impossible to end this disgraceful behavior. However, even if half of the medical population would take the time to think about their actions and words during pt cares and in general, it would make a huge difference. Then Jane Doe would be more likely to have a favorable experience and more apt to maintain health, both physical and emotional, following her tx.

    I am a very sympathetic and empathetic person. I usually try to put myself in my patients shoes. However, I too am human and know of times I have grumbled under my breath about a pt or two. It helps to know others understand your stressful, demanding day and offer support. Their understanding and support is priceless when it is optimistic, not sarcastic. When it is positive not negative, and when it is constructive not destructive.

    -when a fellow nurse was venting about her day and the problems she encountered, another nurse tried to show support and understanding. The way she went about it, however, was not conducive. She did the ole, "You think your day was bad, wait till you hear about mine", schpeil. The 'one-upping', and constant barrage of b**ching only feeds into the cycle of negativity. Instead, when venting about the day, one could express what they learned, what made them proud, pleased or affirmed their role as a 'nurse'. We all learn every day and should be proud of that, not ashamed to admit you didn't know it before hand. We are all so afraid of looking ignorant in front of eachother. When a patient compliments you for something you did or the manner in which you did it, tell others. Soon they will change their performance standards to achieve the same reciprocation. It is not bragging...personally I would rather hear a fellow nurse boast about something they learned, something positive a pt said about them etc., than hear them b**ch, nag or whine.

    Well then...{phewww}, I will step of my soap box! ha ha

    Ya'll have a good day. Health and Blessings.
    Happy Nursing~ Jodie

    [This message has been edited by Jo_deye_yuh (edited November 13, 2000).]
  6. by   ClariceS
    One thing to remember also is how we are acting around patients that are unresponsive to us. Keep in mind that they may very well be able to hear and understand everything said in their presence. I always talk to the patient, letting them know what I/we will be doing, as if they were able to respond to me. My nurses know this is my soapbox as I bring it up every time we have a patient with decreased response. Even if the patient is not able to remember any of your care, the family will.
  7. by   pickledpepperRN
    Love your soapbox Jodie!
    Thank you. We all need it sometimes.

  8. by   sonnie
    You are my hero here!!! I think I will print out your reply and post it at the nursing station for my coworkers. They seem to have a bad case of the b**ching bug!!! We must be soul sisters!! since I was born in South Dakota!!!!
  9. by   timonrn
    Can you stand one more...On my GYN floor a couple years ago I had a Kardex that said "Pt is a lesbian" !?!? What does this have to do w/ anything? I erased it promply
  10. by   Jo_deye_yuh
    Originally posted by sonnie:
    You are my hero here!!! I think I will print out your reply and post it at the nursing station for my coworkers. They seem to have a bad case of the b**ching bug!!! We must be soul sisters!! since I was born in South Dakota!!!!
    Awww shucks, Sonnie, ya made me blush. Thank you for your support for the underlying and undying truthes about our profession! I am rewarded knowing you are amoung my peers. Happy Holidays! God Bless~Jodie [img]/bb/biggrin.gif[/img]

  11. by   JillR

    Thanks, I needed that. We tend to forget when rushed and we are running around trying to take care of more patients than we should be taking care of, that it is not about us. It is about the patients.