What would you say to this shocking patient statement?


  • Specializes in Medical-Surgical / Palliative/ Hospice. Has 17 years experience.

Obese female in her forties admitted from the ED for asthma, allergy list a mile long, takes medication for anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, migraines, chronic back pain, etc. Has packed her comfy jammies, memory foam pillow, iPad, laptop, and cell phone, and before she has even entered the room she needs the facility WiFi password and a pass to the cafeteria because she hasn't eaten all day.

This is just me venting and trying not to sound too judgmental. This actually happens all the time and I am used to "professional patients". I just wanted to paint a metal image for what this patient said while I was admitting her.

I learned she had recently been admitted to a nearby facility for the same diagnosis but left AMA. I asked why she had left AMA and she said she didn't like her doctor. I said sometimes that is the case and she could have requested a new doctor. She said she did that, and didn't like the new doctor either. I asked why and she said "They had brown skin and heavy Indian accents. I am an American, and if I go to a hospital in America, I demand to have an American doctor".

I had no idea how to respond, so I just said "It is your right to be comfortable with your doctor", then finished the admission assessment. I have been a floor nurse long enough that very little shocks me, but WOW.

How would you have responded to that statement? What other shocking things have patients said that you didn't know how to respond?

KelRN215, BSN, RN

1 Article; 7,349 Posts

Specializes in Pedi. Has 16 years experience.

"There's no guarantee that you'll find that here either."


650 Posts

Has 8+ years experience.

Some of our best doctors are from other countries, and it would be unfortunate if you didn't allow them to help you because of the colour of their skin. Just being "American" (or Canadian in my case) does not guarantee quality.

Specializes in FNP, ONP. Has 25 years experience.

I never say anything to bigots. I given them what my children call "the look." It is a dead stare with a slight frown and a raised eyebrow. I am very, very good at it and can keep it going for as long as necessary. It makes my displeasure clear without ever saying anything anyone can turn around and complain about. What are they going to say? "I complained about my brown doctor and the Blue Devil looked at me all funny!" I dare them, lol.

I had a very similar situation happen, and I did not acknowledge the comments. I just continued my assessment. I wanted to express my opinion and enlighten (ha!) the patient with my own personal values, but I felt like the best thing to do was address the health issue and avoid a debate. However, if other patients were around and were upset by the comments, I'd feel obligated to ask him/her to stop making the comments to avoid disturbing the other patients.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

You handled that situation beautifully, OP.

As much as we hate to admit it, we're not going to turn a bigot into an open-minded, tolerant individual in the course of a hospital stay. Whatever makes someone that way, we don't know and we can't fix it. I do like Blue Devil's approach, and have been known to give good glare when stupid, insensitive, judgmental comments come out of patients' mouths. But again, I have neither the time nor the temperament to try to 'educate' these fools, so I just fix 'em with a bad look, mutter "I'm sorry you feel that way" and go right on doing my job. :cool:


351 Posts

Oh Gawd! I would have said, "and let's get that 'communist Muslim' out of the White House too" as I spit my tobacco on the floor. Not!!!

healthstar, BSN, RN

1 Article; 944 Posts

Wow, just wow! Some people are weird as hell. I don't care if an alien takes car of me as long as they know what they're doing :)...,... Hospitals are very diverse......I am not Indian but I find that statement offensive but at the same time I would rather give up that pt any second to someone else :)so many people are narrow minded and they watch too much tv.....education is GOLD! Only an uneducated person would say such thing.

allnurses Guide


2,452 Posts

Specializes in ortho, hospice volunteer, psych,. Has 20 years experience.

Once when a teen psych pt's mom complained yet again (think for the 100th time that shift) about

that ^&*% dark skinned &*$# doctor treating her little darling, and was complaining that the doctor

couldn't possibly be any good...etc. etc. etc.

I had had it and said, "I'll ask Dr. B to talk to your child tomorrow, but you do know that Dr. A. is

the adolescent psych dept.chairman, don't you?" P.S. He was born in this country too!

Not another peep out of her...ever!

Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV.

We recently had a family member of a critical ill patient, demand during a medical crisis, for all of those that do not believe in Jesus to get the $%^& out of the patients room.

Had the pt not been on the verge of a code, ALL of the staff would have been tempted to walk out, Christian and nonChristian, just to make the point.

Quite honestly, had all of the nonChristians left, then the only staff left would have been housekeeping, a tech, and three nurses. the 3 MDs , many of the nurses, dialysis would have all left.

Specializes in FNP, ONP. Has 25 years experience.

I'm an atheist and I would have said so and let her throw me out, lol. Idiot.

Specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.


We all are victims of ethnocentricity, once we start devaluing the ideas and beliefs of others we become no better than those whom we look down upon. This goes for both sides.

We do not have to like our patients but they all are due the same respect and professional behavior that is due to anyone else. It may not be pleasant but that is our professional duty.

She may not have liked the Indian doctors but that is her right, both as a patient and as an American.

I would like to note that although she made disparaging remarks about the ethnicity and skin color of her physicians, you too are guilty. I find it interesting that you must qualify this patient by her weight, age, and preparedness for the hospital visit, as if you were attempting to paint a less than pleasant view of this individual.

Different strokes for different folks.