Patient families


Hi! I've been a Nicu nurse for about a year and a half now and yesterday received my first patient family complaint. I know this won't be the last time this happens, but how do you all handle these situations? I got very upset and have been rethinking the situation over and over. And it's really getting under my skin. As seasoned nurses, how do you handle these situations and not let them affect you and how you look at yourself as a nurse or make you hate nursing?

Specializes in Acute Care Pediatrics. Has 4 years experience.

Everyone gets "fired" by a patient...

File it away and move on!

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

Pretty much every patient's family that has fired me has made my co-workers jealous. Some people just cannot be pleased. I do try to dig out the grain of truth that every complaint has and learn from it however.


188 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 11 years experience.

I have been a NICU nurse for eight years, and I still usually cry everytime I hear from my manager that someone has complained about me or doesn't want me to take care of her baby anymore. I think it is true that it happens to all of us from time to time, but it's okay to be upset about it! My manager always reminds me that I take care of hundreds of babies every year, and an occasional mismatch with a family is nothing to worry about because for every family that does not "like" me, there are many more who do!

Specializes in ICU. Has 12 years experience.

A good friend of mine once got fired from a baby for turning the lights on to assess the kid. :no: Usually getting "fired" is a blessing in disguise -- gives you a break from a demanding/unreasonable family!

Bortaz, MSN, RN

1 Article; 2,628 Posts

Specializes in CDI Supervisor; Formerly NICU. Has 14 years experience.

I could not care less about it. It happens, I move on with my life, thankful to be out of that situation.


156 Posts

Specializes in Early Intervention, Nsg. Education. Has 27 years experience.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I've been one of those "unreasonable, screaming banshee-like mothers who fire nurses." My middle child was a 32 weeker, really uncomplicated course, became a feeder/grower at about DOL #7. I'm one of those moms who is able to pump 20oz per session, so By the end of week 2, I had at least 4 buckets of frozen EBM in the freezer. One morning I came in and noticed a bottle of (gasp!) formula on the shelf near her isolette. The night nurse didn't see any bottles of EBM a in the fridge, and somehow missed the bucketfuls in the freezer, so she gave her formula for one, maybe two gavage feeds. I went absolutely nuts! I immediately complained to the NM that I didn't want the nurse who "put chemicals into my daughter's body" to take care of her ever again. Fortunately my daughter managed to continue to thrive in spite of the total of 40 or 50ml's of formula that she received that night. (Shocking, I'm sure!). She's almost 16 years old now, and shows no untoward effects of the formula she mistakenly received when she was two weeks old. (Boy, did we luck out! LOL)

Just to show how irrationally I reacted to the formula incident, compare it to another incident that occurred while she was in the NICU: on DOL #4 or 5, her PICC occluded and had a peripheral IV placed in her inner wrist. She was still on PN and IV abx. At some point, the IV infiltrated and either the PN or abx extravasated. For a little while, there was a chance that she could require a skin graft at the site. Fortunately, her wrist healed and today she only has a small scar at the site. When Hubby and I met with the NICU team to talk about the incident, we were concerned, but not freaked out. I knew how quickly something like that could happen in an adult, so obviously it could happen even sooner and cause more tissue damage in a 4 lb neonate.

Hmmmm...Mom is appropriately concerned with a wrist wound that could have required a skin graft, but a couple ounces of formula turned me into an irrational screaming banshee?!?! ?. Embarrassing. My heart goes out to all the NICU a nurses who take care of these little bundles...and their hormonal, neurotic, sometimes irrational Moms. I wonder who is trickier to care for; baby or Mom? ?

Bortaz, MSN, RN

1 Article; 2,628 Posts

Specializes in CDI Supervisor; Formerly NICU. Has 14 years experience.

Mom. Definitely mom.

NicuGal, MSN, RN

2,743 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU. Has 30 years experience.

Don't let it upset you, this won't be the last time. Parents freak at things because they don't have control, parents freak because that is how they are and like to work the system and that is their way. It is life in the NICU.

What is the saying? You can be the sweetest, juiciest peach of the bunch but there are still those that don't like peaches.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

17 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

Not specific to NICU, but anytime I've been fired by a patient in my 13 years I've had do an inner happy dance.

I can get along with about 99.8% of the world, so when the occasional patient has fired me it has been a beautiful thing, for I didn't like them much either.

It's ok. To quote an oft-repeated recent Disney movie song, let it go.

In general, try not to take it personally as usually there are other stressors going on. Usually it's a blessing in disguise and you should be doing a happy dance to get away from the bad karma. However we tend to go over in our heads "Why? What did I do wrong?" And then there's the many times I wish the family would put me on the fired list because NO ONE wants to care for them for various reasons!