I work in a surgical acute/oncology unit and I have been a nurse for 11 years. It's been a long time but recently I had a patient mock me while attempting to talk to them about their plan of care. This patient was very upset about being transferred to a stable unit in the middle of the night, to make room for telemetry on the other floor. The nurse came up to me and stated that her patient was really upset and he wanted to leave against medical advice. She was grabbing the forms already. This man was not ready for discharge at all. I didn't want him to leave because I was afraid that his health would worsen. I was genuinely concerned for his well being. I sat down in a chair at eye level and spoke to him. I started with, "Hi Mr BLANK my name is Gilly and I am the charge nurse. Can we talk for a minute?" He mocks my voice and says "You want to talk for a minute?" It was shocking. For a moment, I couldn't say anything because it was so awful. I said, "Yes, I do with you, if that's okay." Then he does it again except he repeats what I said in this awful tone. He begins to mock everyone in the room and then calling them "mfkers." The primary nurse comes in and gives him the AMA form and says, "Can you walk?" In my heart I'm like, "No! Don't go! Don't go!" Even though he mocked the crap out of me, I really don't want him to go - how strange is that?
Anyway, I froze. I felt like a terrible leader at that moment.
Have you ever had a patient make you feel that way? Make you question your own ability?
I let him get to me. I shouldn't have, but what would I have said?
If I can go back, I have a scenario in my mind. To set the limits and say, "Don't talk to me like that. I am trying to help you and all you are doing is verbally abusing me. Help me understand you. What is your problem and what can we do to make you feel comfortable?"
But, something tells me even that wouldn't help.
So, how have you handled difficult patients? Was there ever a time where you had to put your foot down if so, what did you say?
Thanks for your time.