Top three patient complaints?


What are the top three complaints by patients that you hear on a regular basis, and how do you typically respond?

I'll start:

Complaint #1) It's freezing in here!

Usual response: "Yes, I'd freeze to death if I weren't running my tail off! Unfortunately, the temperature is centrally controlled and I can't adjust it for you. But I can grab you a warm blanket!"

Complaint #2) This stretcher is so hard!

Usual response: "Yes, our stretchers do give a new meaning to the term "firm", don't they? On the other hand, if you need CPR, they're perfect for that! How about if we adjust the head of the bed? That might take some pressure off your lower back."

Complaint #3) It's taking too long!

Usual response: "Unfortunately, I don't have any control over how long [labs/diagnostics/whatever] take to result, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled. In the meantime, is there anything I can do for you while you wait?"

I'm being earnest, but sarcasm is welcome too.:coollook:


6 Posts

Specializes in ER, MS, OB-GYNE, Critical Care. Has 3 years experience.

That's funny....

I also get so many rants and ridiculous requests from our patients. From wifi connection to the taste of the food down to the why it takes so long for the lab results to come out.


228 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 27 years experience.

Had a lady in with her sick mom last week come to the door of a room I was standing in, while we were intubating a "found down last known normal 2 days ago" to ask if I could find her an Iphone charger...

She seemed to have no concerns, nor take any notice of the 12 people standing around, and actually poked her head in, called my name, and asked the question.

I was flabbergasted. :smackingf


587 Posts

OP I love u! If I were a pt, those responses would work for me. You are caring, a kind, and matter of fact.

I work LTC so the complaints are a little different.

1. This is horrible coffee. (resident has put 6 packets of sugar and 4 powdered creams in the coffee when they normally take it black) (dementia)

2. The food is cold. The coffee is cold. (can you heat mine and everyone else's at the table up) (yes I can but why don't we see if they agree with you before I take their plates away.)

3. It's freezing in here! (same as you)


1. I have to go to the bathroom (just as they are blocked in by all the wheelchairs in the dining room...and yes, sigh, I take them to the restroom.

2. My feet/legs hurt. (legs and feet horribly edematous) No I won't lie down and put my feet up. I might miss something. Those ted hose hurt, I don't want them on. (well those are the only ideas I have, what do think we should do?

3. It stinks in here! (roomate or nurse has just cut a silent but deadly!)

Let's hear it for Febreeze!:p


6 Posts

Specializes in ER, MS, OB-GYNE, Critical Care. Has 3 years experience.

Last month, at our Emergency Room, we had a triple code. 3 patients were intubated successively. One Adult CRF patient, One Teenage COPD and one neonate with neonatal sepsis. Each ER nurse had to attend to each patient. The ER was in chaos as patients kept flooding in and a Vehicular Accident patient came in with several lacerations and a broken bone. Imagine this with only 2 Residents and 3 NOD

While doing cardiac massage to the CRF patient, a family member of one of our patient came to me and ask "When will we be forwarded to our room? We have been waiting for 30 mins already, my patient has a headache and fever!"

Everybody including the Residents paused and looked at her. My senior told her "if your patient will be like this, I will attend to you immediately but for the meantime, please SIT down"

wooh, BSN, RN

1 Article; 4,383 Posts

Why hasn't the doctor been in yet?

If I could control the physician's schedules, I'd be making a lot more money than I do now.

Specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

List only three?? Geez where to start:


A fair enough question, but not when they ask it every 3 minutes & I've already told them, I don't know, the docs come in all diff times, there's no 'list' you are on to be seen. This gets my goat everytime, like I have the docs personal schedule on me.

"I'VE BEEN RINGING MY CALL BELL FOR OVER AN HOUR (insert time here) AND YOU HAVEN'T BEEN IN TO SEE ME!" If I could clone myself, I would send my clone in here, then I wouldn't have to listen to your constant and unceasing whining. And I DID time a lady who kept saying it was 30 mins etc inbetween when she rang the bell, the most she had to wait was about 7 minutes - but she didn't believe me. She said 'you haven't been in here to see me for over an hour!' Replied: I was in here 20 minutes ago ma'am - here, I've actually written the time on your chart that I saw you and signed it :) (showed her the chart & she shut up).

Patient fasting for surgery, has been explained to him why he's fasting, safety issues with anaesthesia, etc, etc, then he says:


(heaves big sigh)


349 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg/Neuro/Oncology floor nursing.. Has 10 years experience.

I work on the neurology/neurosurgery floor here the top three complaints I get(I had some of the same complaints when I had my brain surgery LOL):


Yeah we kind of figured that one out since you DID just have brain surgery and are hooked up to a PCA with breakthrough meds every three hours!

2)"The food is terrible...I wouldn't eat it on a good day!"

Yeah me either...the food is pretty gross. I would rather starve then eat the food served at the hospital I work at. Good thing it's a big city with plenty of street vendors and little shops near the hospital I can go to...Sorry if you have an IV you can't leave the floor...your ID bracelet has a GPS on it for a reason.

3)"The neuro exams are never ending...that was the 10th person in the past two hours that asked me who the president is, what day it is, asked me to smile, count backwards by 7 and to squeeze their hands!"

Did you say the president is Kennedy? Because if you did they are going to keep doing the neuro exams until you get the president right!

Number one is "why is it taking the doctor so long to get here."

Things I'd LIKE to say:

"You've only been here for like 45 minutes, that's NOTHING."

"It's taking so long because the doctor is busy seeing the people who are actually sick."

"The world doesn't revolve around you. The doctor is currently taking care of X other patients, so might not be available to talk to you the instant your lab results are ready."

"Guess you should have tried to make an appointment with your regular doctor."


554 Posts

1. I know you said he can't have anything to eat or drink after midnight...but he can still have water right?

No, ma'am..your husband is having open heart surgery, he cannot drink water, or anything else.

2. I don't want to walk, when my grandfather had open heart surgery 30 years ago,he was on bedrest for a week.

Yes, and he most likely got pneumonia and a bowel obstruction. We've learned alot since then. You are walking, and need to be able to walk 500 feet without assist 3x a day before discharge, or you are going to a nursing home.

3. I never slept at all last night. I offered pt a sleeping pill at 2100, 2300, 0200. Then pt asks for the sleeping pill at 0500...umm, too late, per policy I can't give it after 0200, and I TOLD you that the last time I offered it.

Specializes in ED/ICU/TELEMETRY/LTC. Has 20 years experience.

1. Direct admit to floor: "Is the doctor here?" Was he at the office when you saw him? "yes" He's already seen you. He sent orders. "But I thought he would come here to see me." No he's already seen you.

2. "Why can't they just give me some medicine and let me go home?" Hello, nobody knows what's wrong with you. That kinda limits "the medicine."

3. "But I have to have pain medicine now, I can't wait to see the doctor." Listen to me, you are standing up, shouting at me. You pain is not preventing it. Read my lips, Pain is not an emergency, it's a symptom. And BTW, nobody dies from pain. Let us find out what is causing it.

4. "First they thought I had yada yada, and then they thought it was whoknows, and next they said it might be whatsit. I don't think these people know what they are dong." Yes it's 2011 but unfortunately for us all, a lot of diagnoses are still done by exclusion. Get over it.

Specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

Elthia your post made me lol, cos I had a patient who was fasing for surgery, but got his gf to get him an iced coffee - cos he thought milk didn't count! We had one very p*ssed off anaesthetist who came & saw the patient that day, and he gave the patient a big lecture!