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When patients keep calling 911

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by JJ the crit RN JJ the crit RN (New) New

Acute care hospital. Patient doesn't get what she wants from the kitchen: calls 911. Doesn't get a snack because we have to save them for diabetic urgencies: calls 911. Pain med is late or the doctor DCs it: calls 911. OK so what do you do? Confiscate the phone, she comes out to the hall screaming and cursing, follows staff around. Security can't do anything and police can't touch them unless it's a threat. This isn't unusual unfortunately with some of our patients. My guess is we have to put up with it forever. Thoughts?

Atl-Murse

Has 1 years experience.

Hire Doctor Jack Kevorian .

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

I don't think you're allowed to take their phone away.

Make sure the family knows.

Doesn't the 911 dispatcher call you for in-house pt phone calls? I don't know if there's any penalty for false alarms, but maybe a law enforcement person should show up and read the riot act TO THE PT, not the hosp..

AceOfHearts<3

Specializes in Critical care.

How about a 1:1 sitter order? Order for haldol if necessary, etc.

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

I don't think you can chemically restrain the pt - not a threat to self, others or the environment!

OldDude

Specializes in Pediatrics Retired.

Of course, I don't work there so I can't actually relate but I can just say, how does a patient placing a non-emergency 911 call have anything to do with you or your nursing care. It's a relationship developed between the patient and 911 Operator and subsequent action would be the patient's responsibility. I'd do nothing about it. The police agency will eventually get it worked out with the person placing the calls.

Why can't the police do anything? Last time I checked (at least in my area) calling 911 for frivolous things is a crime.

No one that I'm aware of has actually done this at my hospital. It's like an urban legend.

I have several family members that are in law enforcement. I would not want to be the person that did this when they responded.

i have heard of patients in LTC facilities doing this. I believe the nurse told me that the 911 center had taken to calling the facility before responding.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Yeah, my first thought too was just let them call. 911 has protocols in place for dealing with nuisance citizens abusing the system and clogging up the lines. Natural consequences should happen. If 911 calls you guys to complain, remind them of their protocol and stress that you don't have the authority to stop this person, they do.

kalycat, BSN, RN

Specializes in CVICU CCRN. Has 5 years experience.

This happens a lot on my unit when a patient is confused, so as another poster stated, law enforcement calls in house to our facility to verify what is going on.

We we will call a security threat if a patient leaves the room in a threatening manner and is following staff. We get orders for anti agitation meds and restraints of necessary, but these are confused unsafe patients. I have never had an oriented patient call 911 out of spite or whatever.

if this patient is oriented then law enforcement needs to work it out w/the patient per their policy. If not, the patient has at very least bought themselves a sitter and haldol.

Pixie.RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 13 years experience.

Abuse of 911 does have legal ramifications in many jurisdictions. I have seen some frequent mis-users of the system receive various punishments that deterred them from repeated mis-using the system.

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

Why can't the police do anything? Last time I checked (at least in my area) calling 911 for frivolous things is a crime
.

Exactly my thought -- abuse of 911 is against the law. Based on what you posted it sounds deliberate, not a 90 yr old with dementia calling 911 because she thinks she's been kidnapped and held prisoner.

If anyone calls the nurse's station to report the calls to you/other staff, I would refuse to engage. "There's nothing I can do to stop her/your dept needs to follow usual protocols for abuse of 911."

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

I would probably look up the law in your county though, and advise the pt. Hopefully that would deter her, but if not she needs to face the consequences for her behavior. She is using emergency resources and tying up lines that people need, say when they're bleeding out from an injury or someone is breaking into their home, or their house is on fire.

I would call the physician and have them put in for a sitter. Wandering the halls is a safety issue.

I would also remove the phone. Our rooms don't have patient phones but sometimes we have these ones that we can put in if a pt requests it.

They don't need a phone. I would also state firmly by calling 911 and abusing the service they may end up in trouble with the police as that is illegal.

Im usually sugary sweet with my patients but there are times I gotta get stern with them. It's rare, but I have. Sometimes people need a little tough love.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

When I used to work at a specialty hospital, we would arrange for our wonderful security guard to firmly tell these types of patients to stop telephoning 911.

It usually worked like a charm...

Acute care hospitals with this not uncommon behavior need to work out, if they haven't already, a legally sound protocol. You cannot decide and act as an individual staff member or even as a unit.

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

I would also remove the phone. Our rooms don't have patient phones but sometimes we have these ones that we can put in if a pt requests it.

They don't need a phone.

She could be calling with her own cell phone, though. We see those on tray tables all the time.

Ele_123

Has 6 years experience.

I've taken care of a couple patients who were A&Ox4 did this on their personal cell phone about petty things- coffee/food wasn't what she wanted, staff didn't get to her room fast enough, nurse wouldn't administer medication the way she wanted, but they told the 911 operator that they were at XYZ hospital on # floor and their current complaint they had about the staff. After a couple of calls the 911 operator called the hospital operator and the hospital operator talked to our unit clerk. One patient quit after the house supervisor had a stern talk with her. The other patient quit calling 911 after a talk from security about false 911 calls being illegal & was also informed that if they are unhappy with the hospital they can leave AMA or file a formal grievance in a couple days (on Monday).

Healthy enough to talk, healthy enough to walk, healthy enough to gripe about both sounds like a patient ready for discharge. Problem solved. ;)