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Shared rooms and confused patients


Has 5 years experience.

Hi folks,

I work on a floor that has shared rooms for our patients. I was caring for an elderly man in the first bed for the day and he had rather advanced dementia. Without revealing too many details, this gentleman had been diagnosed with dementia for quite some time and was having difficulty letting go of his freedom and independence... rightfully so! but he was not understanding why he was being kept in the hospital and was upset with his family for not taking him home immediately. In the time I spent with him while his family was there, he was mostly pleasant and funny, but after his family had gone home he forgot all about our discussions regarding his plan of care and became very disoriented and upset. In my efforts to reorient him we spent quite some time reviewing the days events and he was adamant that he speak with his family and became very aggitated. So we helped him contact them and it was heartbreakingly frustrating for him. He could barely form a thought.

Now that you have a little back story, his neighbor in the 2nd bed had been snickering and making snide comments with his family at his bedside while I tried to calm this poor gentleman down. This patient in 2nd bed had been difficult all day and his nurse had had it with him. He was rude and mean to the staff. While I tried my best to concentrate on my patient and his needs, this guy was being COMPLETELY inappropriate and rude. What made it worse is that his kids were there and saw this shining example of bullying for themselves. The whole time my patient was trying to talk to his family, he was yelling about how it was obvious he had dementia (like I didn't know) and what a joke it was that I was even talking to him. The anger welled up inside me and I walked around the curtain and told him and his significant other to shut it and it was none of his business what was going on with this poor man. You could tell that no one ever tells this guy to cram it because he was pretty quiet and actually tried to tell me that he wasn't talking about the patient, he was talking about someone else... ARE WE 5 YEARS OLD?? How could someone think this situation was funny? What kind of heartless soul would think that I would agree with him and think this was hilarious? I was so angry when I left the room I immediately went to my charge and asked to have the jerk in bed 2 moved (hopefully out to the streets...) so my poor man would be left alone. Thankfully we were able to move my patient to a room with a sitter so he would be safe for the night.

Now I have had my share of patients who are completely alert and oriented and have been stuck next to a confused patient who yells and screams at night and I feel bad for them... we try our best to move them to an appropriate room, but I have never had someone that was such a bully make fun of a confused little old man. This has bothered me for so many days now that I thought I would share it and get it off my chest.

How do you all deal with patients like this? Are we all under the same impression that this guy is on a rocket straight to hell?


Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

I just wanted to give you a round of applause for telling that creep to stuff it. Sometimes I wish patients knew what we're thinking.

I also wanted to thank you for dealing with this self-centered boor.

Pangea Reunited, ASN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

I separate patients fast at the first sign of trouble ...learned that one the hard way! There are a lot of jerks in the world and I know I can't "fix" their personalities. And sadly, "helpful" roommates can be just as annoying ...and sometimes dangerous, too. :eek:


Specializes in PACU, pre/postoperative, ortho. Has 10 years experience.

As the child of a dementia sufferer, I also want to thank you for putting a stop to pt 2's mouth. Had I been in the room as pt 1's family, you probably would have had to hold me back from slapping the smirk off his face before I demanded a private room.

We all know about karma. This guy's screwed if he ever develops dementia; his kids will be the kind that drop him off somewhere & wash their hands of him.

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 14 years experience.

Move patient 1 into a private room and give patient 2 a roommate who snores... loudly and a lot.

We once had a patient with same sex parents who was in a double room. The roommate's parents complained to the Social Worker that they didn't want to be in a room with "such people"... so we moved the first patient into a private room and put a parentless crying baby in with the other people.