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Patients and the race card

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CanadaEh CanadaEh (New) New

Specializes in Ortho trauma. Has 2 years experience.

I am a fairly new nurse and many of my co-workers have run into situations where a patient pulls the race card on them. This has not yet happened to me, but I'm sure with time it will.

Just wondering how others have handled this type of situation and how patients have reacted.

Thanks!

fromtheseaRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency/Trauma.

the race card?

unfortunately race still does prohibit a lot of people from certain things in life, whether you like it or not.

I am a fairly new nurse and many of my co-workers have run into situations where a patient pulls the race card on them. This has not yet happened to me, but I'm sure with time it will.

Just wondering how others have handled this type of situation and how patients have reacted.

Thanks!

Please explain more dear:)

What exactly do you mean by the 'race card'?

Call me obtuse. But as a "minority" (I detest that term) myself, I don't want to assume that I know what this means to someone else.

op....no one has played the race card on you but you are sure in time someone will?

are you saying racism is dead stiff and rotten?

tread lightly.this isnt the most insulting post i have ever read, but it is working on miss congenality.

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

"tread lightly.this isnt the most insulting post i have ever read, but it is working on miss congenality"

I'm thinking headinsandRN meant to say "but it isn't working on miss congeniality."

Edited by roser13

lifelearningrn, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 6 years experience.

'Playing the race card' how? Isn't a patient a patient? I don't see how race even comes into play?

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

you're going to have to explain more.

i've seen patients reject certain nurses due to racial issues, but i've never seen the reverse.

JacknSweetpea

Specializes in drug seekers and the incurably insane.. Has 3 years experience.

Perhaps the OP is meaning that he/she may come across patients in the future whom might accuse the OP of not doing this or that because they are this or that race. Who knows? The truest thing my mother has ever told me is that the general public sucks. My mother was a waitress for nearly 20 years before becoming an RN. There are some patients and their families whom are looking to cause problems with a facility and the staff, and will not hesitate to make stuff up. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is.

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

OP, being a "fairly new" nurse, I'm thinking you may learn a valuable lesson from this post and from the answers. None of us are quite sure what your co-workers mean by "pulling the race card" but I daresay that most/all of the responders so far have taken a little offense at your wording.

The lesson you learn may not be exactly the one you were expecting, but I hope that you will learn from it nonetheless.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 34 years experience.

Perhaps the OP means a pt will say something like "If I white, I would get that XRay/CT scan/MRI faster". I have had pts say something like that to me.

I just respond that this hospital treats everyone exactly the same regardless of colour.

brownbook

Has 35 years experience.

I wanted to not dignify this post with a response. Then I thought my silence might mean acceptance of your implication.

Sick, worried, anxious, patients and their families do say mean hurtful things. They can be of any race.

You are a professional. Whatever they say you handle yourself with dignity, politely disagree, "No sir we are not delaying your treatment because of your race, the prior surgery took longer than scheduled. Would you like to speak to my supervisor." Or whatever the situation calls for.

If you are of the opinion that people of a certain race behave differently, in a negative manner, than your race, you are in the wrong profession, indeed the wrong century!!!!!

brownbook

Has 35 years experience.

PS, you did say it was your co-workers who made this claim. You have my permission to tell them exactly what I said!!!!!

I should not have implied you personally felt this way.

Orange Tree

Specializes in Medical Surgical Orthopedic.

I think I would say something like:

"Race/ethnicity is not a factor we consider when answering call lights, however, I agree that you waited an unreasonable amount of time for your call light to be answered. Sometimes, I wish that there were three times as many people answering call lights on this floor. We would keep them very busy!"

And if they're not just frustrated and actually have a "core" issue that revolves around race, risk management should take things over.

Perhaps the OP means a pt will say something like "If I white, I would get that XRay/CT scan/MRI faster". I have had pts say something like that to me.

I just respond that this hospital treats everyone exactly the same regardless of colour.

If that is what the OP means, I've got this to say -- and I say it not as a nurse (I'm a student), but as a human being.

I live in an area whose population has shocked me at times with blatantly negative attitudes. Not only in regards to race (there is a large Mexican migrant worker population here), but also in regards to homosexuals, Muslims, and women who have had abortions, among other groups.

I have heard people in a clinic waiting room say that a man who'd recently died had deserved AIDS because he was gay. I listened to a black woman in one of my prerequisite classes say that she wouldn't give CPR to a Hispanic, because she didn't want to take the chance that she was helping an illegal. I've heard a pastor say he'd never offer help to a woman who was open about having had an abortion. It comes in smaller comments too; I can't tell you how many off-the-cuff negative stereotypes people are careless about spewing from day to day.

If people are willing to say things like this in the open, I can only imagine what else is in their heads. I've been on the receiving end of a bad situation regarding my mixed heritage myself, and I can never automatically discount it when someone claims an instance of prejudice. What goes through people's mind influences how they behave, whether they want it to or not.

Is it always true when claimed? Of course not. Sometimes it's just frustration coming out. Sometimes it's not even that -- I don't argue that people do tell falsehoods for gain. It's a shame that it happens, especially because it masks a very real problem and devalues the situations of people for whom it is the honest truth.

All I can say is if you never want to be accused to behaving in a biased manner, then don't behave in one. So that if it ever comes up that someone claims you did, you can in all confidence tell the truth.

MassED, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 15 years experience.

I was once called a "white devil." I had to go ask what the hell that was... this was said to me by a 3 year old girl. I was horrified. I think I posted this before a while back, but she was freaked out by my eye color!!! They are green. I didn't believe that kind of crap was actually still going on in this century! That was an rude awakening for me to the grips of some of the ignorant "twilight zone" southerners (this was my experience of where I was at the time)! I have lived in MANY MANY states and didn't experience anything like this until I lived in this place.... and this wasn't the only weird experience... It was a step back in time to me. I found it very sad, but what can you say to a child? nothing. I looked at that mom and wondered if she was embarrassed.

Then again, this area had some of the nicest, most thoughtful, and wonderful patients I have ever encountered - to this day. I have moved a few times since and wish I could see that same level of appreciation, respect, and genuine concern for each other that I experienced there. Most of the wonderful, amazing, impactful patients were not of the race that I am. I was shown more love on a daily basis (and offered hugs, food, and brought into families) than any other place I have ever been. That place was a true experience to understand how race played a part (and was brought up daily within this facility) in a small, somewhat forgotten, not so progressive town. This can lead into way more off topic discussions..... how age plays a part in race, in harmony, in balance in a community.... how respect for each other is paramount.... understanding compassion.... truly understanding the human journey. When a family of many knows you as their nurse and has seen you many times, walked with you through happiness and vast sadness, it bridges all gaps. It really does. It is an eye opener to work in a place that shakes and upsets the balance of what you might be used to. Everyone should try it, at least once.

Edited by MassED

BabyLady, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, Post-partum.

The OP is being honest...and let's face it, some of us have had patients pull the race card and this has happened to me twice already.

I won't say which racial minority group...because that is unimportant, but both times it has happened with the same ones.

These patients (I work in the NICU), were treated just like any of our other babies, but because the outcome wasn't what these mothers wanted (both babies were drug babies), they blamed it on the staff and said we were not taking the best care of their babies because they were .

It was beyond absurd...and it's funny, because OTHER minority groups, have praised the care we have given...except for this particular one. We personally, don't care who they are and the nurses never know if they are state-welfare recipients or if they are under traditional insurance...like they claim...I am too focused on the care of their baby to concern myself with how they are paying their medical bill...after all, it has ZERO effect on how I do my job.

But I am sick of it too...you show me someone that plays the race card and I'll show you someone who is their own problem...not their race.

CanadaEh

Specializes in Ortho trauma. Has 2 years experience.

Sorry for those who I have offended. I have traveled to many countries to experience culture and meet people that are different from me. This is one of my passions in life to! I have volunteered in Liberia, Kenya, Cambodia, Tibet and the list continues.... I am minority group myself.

Saying this, I love my job and treat all my patients in an equal manner no matter race, ethnicity, etc.

Thanks to those such as Pepper the Cat and Orange Tree for providing positive constructive feedback!