Please help my sanity, irate family members

Nurses Relations


I still currently work in this small hospital but I am handling more difficult patients. Just last 2 weeks, I encountered this patient with a very irate family member. Her father was admitted had an operation done and was ambulatory 4 days after. He was a very strong man, considering that he is in his 70s. At one time, his daughter came to visit and that's when everything changed. He wanted to be bedridden and his daughter would press the call light at every single request, even doing number 1 and number 2s. I get that he is a patient and I should care for him and all. I believe that I am also empathic but what gets on my nerves are patients who don't help themselves. So, they called me in during a time when my stomach was aching and I had 10,000 things to do and I was just to eat a bite for the 2 minute break I had, just for the littlest things. I dont know how they received me being in a hurry and, I also accidentally dropped his glass when assisting him to drink. When I cleaned up and went out of the room, I heard them shouting. So I came back to the room. The daughter started shouting asking for my name and why did I give such poor service, that they were going to bring me to the management and have me out of a job because if i don't want to be a nurse, i shouldn't be one. I said sorry with grovelling and all and explained my side. eventually i was able to pacify the situation and i wasn't fired. but after that I made sure that they received the utmost care I can provide. but I still run the scenario in my head and feel like i am a pathetic nurse. in my years of service, never did a patient complain about me. i feel so deppressed and it's eating me up.

Sit back, take a deep breath, this too shall pass. If father doesn't get a dvt or pe from doing nothing for himself he will get well and go home where daughter can wait on him hand and foot which I don't think will happen. she just likes someone else to do it.

Then take another deep breath because, in the SERVICE oriented environment, we are liable to see more and more of this.

Try not to worry about it. Easier said then done but I read what you've posted and get the picture of a patient that can ambulate to some extent and was probably otherwise progressing through recovery as expected until his daughter came and felt he needed to be treated as an invalid.

It's really not you, it's them and the unrealistic expectation by some that nurses are now personal slaves subject to maintaining customer satisfaction in order to keep their jobs. I really feel that this "buisness model" does patients and health care providers a disservice.

"in my years of service, never did a patient complain about me. i feel so deppressed and it's eating me up."

Let us think...

Oh yeah... GET A GRIP. There is ABSOLUTELY no way you should be berating yourself. The daughter was out of line.

Even in these days of "customer service" you do not have to bow and scrape!

Actually it is our JOB to rehabilitate the patient post-op, not coddle them. You were helping him take a drink???

Sounds like the patient could have done that for himself, or the daughter at the bedside most assuredly could have.

No, she didn't . She called the servant(you) to do that.

We are not servants. Please rethink your current attitude and realize that.

In the future, when you come across this... you could say something like..

"Let's see what he can do " (smile).. encourage him to reach for the glass(smile) as you explain that his independence in ADL's is the main nursing goal for the patient.

Not kissing up to ridiculous family demands.

Specializes in Nurse Leader specializing in Labor & Delivery.
his daughter would press the call light at every single request, even doing number 1 and number 2s.

Tell me you didn't just say this to mean "voiding and stooling"? Does "doing number 1 and number 2s" mean something else?

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.
in my years of service, never did a patient complain about me. i feel so deppressed and it's eating me up.

Really? Never?

That is an outstanding record and you should be proud of it. You are really going to let this one patient and crazy family get to you like this?

That is a shame. Do not let them do that.

Specializes in Certified Med/Surg tele, and other stuff.

Lets see how helpless gramps is at home when the daughter has to take care of him. I bet she won't be holding his water glass at home.

"hmmm, most people at this stage four days post (whatever surgery it was) are about ready for discharge within the next day or two. if mr. smith is unable to get up to the bathroom and feed himself, we'll have to ask the doctor for an order to transfer him to a nursing home. i'll have the discharge planner come in to explain the choices locally."

that should do it.

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion.

Ok you need to evaluate the situation....In your estimation.. Did you do anything wrong? Was the daughter out of line and making a mountin out of a mole hill? It sounds like the daughter and father had a strange dynamic going on. So take it with a grain of salt if you think you did not do anything wrong...if you did the right thing and apologized. Remember that patients and families do not need to busy you long its been since you had a bite to eat..if you are short staffed..It is not their problem. Somehow they perceived you were too busy for them or annoyed at having to help them..and maybe you were...but your actions should never refect that..I imagine that is what happened and their anger was way out of line compared to the deed. So move on..learn what you need to learn..and forget about sound like a good give yourself some credit.

I'm sorry it's eating at you, because it absolutely should not be. From what it sounds like, they had a problem with you being in a hurry? B-F-D. The world does not start and stop at the daughter's convenience or even the patient's convenience. Are we there to take care of our patients? Absolutely. Are we there to wait hand and foot at the drop of a hat? Absolutely not. Especially not when it's a needy, histrionic family member.

We are there to provide the patient with things they cannot provide themselves. If that patient cannot ambulate independently, I'm there to help them ambulate to the bathroom. However, my goal is for them to progress to the point to where they can ambulate on their own. The patient tells us what they can and can't do, not the family member. I never get mean or disrespectful with family members that are trying to become the center of the universe, but I certainly have no problem telling them, in a very "kill them with kindness" way, that I am in control of the care of all my patients, not the family, and I am there to serve the needs of the patient, not them. If that family member is disrupting not only the plan of care for that patient, but my other patients by pressing the call light every three minutes, I will ask them to stop or leave.

There's a lot of the ER nurse in me coming out there, but I had the same attitude when I was a floor nurse. I don't allow overbearing family to dictate care, especially if the patient is not dependent (i.e. no dementia, etc) on the family out of the hospital.

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion.

I am sick of overbearing family members and they seem to be getting worse and worse.I even had the father of a 33 yr old women refuse to move himself from the chair that was butted up so tightly to the bed that I could not even get to the patient to restart the IV that no one else would even try. The jerk told me that he determined that I had enough room to do it. I was not going to be bullied..I know how much room I needed and since I was doing it I told him so. The patient needed an IV in her foot b/c she had a horrible compartment syndrome in both arms. The jerk still refused to I walked out and said I will not do it under these circumstances and he finally decided to get the h## out of my way. I do wish the hospitals were more supportive of nurses that have your perspective brainkandy87,but I believe it's going in the opposite direction.

Specializes in Oncology.

I would have promptly told her that I am a nurse, and I don't give "service" I give "care" and her father is capable and enabling him to stay nonambulatory and not participating in his own activities of daily living would contribute to muscle wasting, loss of strength, and poorer outcomes in the long run. Then I would have turned around and walked out.

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