Empathizing with patients about crappy care - how far is too far…

  1. Your rage should be directed at the right place: hospital administration. It sounds like the bulk of the issues are staffing-related. Not enough techs to help meemaw pee, not enough nurses to facilitate transfers, not enough biomed techs, not enough nurses, etc.

  2. I love it when patients and families march over declaring that they have a complaint. I give them the ole slap on the back and walk them through exactly how to go about it. "They don't listen to us, but they sometimes listen to you guys" I declare with a grin as they stand bewildered with a handful of paperwork and notes.

  3. I apologize and tell them that it's unacceptable and I'll be talking to the Department chair. I usually grab a registration sticker and tell the patient that them that the chair of emergency medicine might contact them.

  4. From a liability perspective, patients are far less likely to litigate when apologies are made. Many patients know things like long wait times, difficulty getting help when needed, etc are systemic and largely due to staffing which the people who are there working have no control over. So, empathizing with a patient’s frustration can go a long way in diffusing a situation. And it reminds them that you’re on their side.

  5. ER nurse here. I do the same thing. If a patient says “the fact that I had to wait 20 hours for a bed is ridiculous.” I tell them they are absolutely right. It is ridiculous, but right now we don’t have enough beds. The whole hospital is full and has been a for a long time. I can’t get a bed until I love someone upstairs, someone gets discharged or I move someone to the hall. We don’t have room and we don’t have staff. We are all doing our best to work in a broken system. I am sorry but this is truly the best I can do given the circumstances. Tbh most of the time people respond pretty positively to the honesty. Phrasing it as a whole system problem makes them realize it’s not just them or you chose not to treat them or you forgot about them. People are rightfully angry and clearly management doesn’t give a fuck so I she no problem showing people who they should truly be angry at.

  6. It’s not so much that we (nurses) get mad that they complain - it’s that they (and their families) then feel absolutely entitled to take out their frustrations on the “lower-level” staff, to the point of condescension, hostility, and downright verbal (if not physical) abuse, instead of taking their complaints to management.

  7. You can ask verbally abusive family members to leave. Tell the attending as well... I personally would stop what I'm doing and give them a stern warning as well.

  8. Place a report in whatever risk management system your hospital uses for every single event. Most of these systems are anonymous, so you should be fairly protected.

  9. You described my hospital situation so perfectly, it’s possible we work together. I’m a nurse who gives a big damn, though, and am probably risking my hide by giving patients and their families my full name as backup for when they call the Patient Advocate. I won’t belabor this by listing the litany of recent additions to my already stacked pile of moral injury; suffice to say, being tagged on social media posts by friends in my community looking for answers as to why their loved ones are receiving abysmal care at the local hospitals under my company’s umbrella is just another slice in the death by a thousand cuts.

  10. I apologize, doctor... I don't have much to offer in the way of advice—I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude at the level of genuine concern you have for your patients' wellbeing.

  11. You sound like you’re in a bad spot my friend, I’m sorry. I think a few of those issues could be addressed if they were in isolation, Aka the missed gonorrhea could be impetus for you to help start a better result call back system. However I think what you’re describing sounds like a place in complete disarray.

  12. Frustrating to work as hard as we do as a profession just to be reduced to this work environment. Emergency medicine should not be operating at the bare minimum margins like this. I wish the country gave a damn and fined hospitals that allow for these conditions.

  13. Sounds like you work at the hospital I used to… key word is past tense. Sorry, but I bailed, can’t be a part of that. Problem is they have plenty of physical rooms and plenty of money to hire staff. Seems to me this is how “they” want it to be.

  14. Here’s some advice… go find your closest tribal or native care hospital and try to get a job with them. Not saying it’s a lot better, but they usually care about the people.

  15. I work in a combined ED/urgent care in a small community hospital. We honestly have a fantastic turnaround time most days, with urgent care in and out in 45 to 90 minutes, and ER patients varying, but usually not there longer than 4 to 6 hours. My most common complaint is from UC patients complaining that they have to wait an hour or more while ER patients are triaged and taken to an ED bed, sometimes in minutes. I usually invite those people to make an appointment at one of our clinics, which book out 6 to 8 weeks right now, or to try coming back in a few hours when the wait time might be shorter. Very few people leave after that, especially once I explain that there are 2 nurses and 1 doctor taking care of everyone there.

  16. There is almost certainly SOME way out of your contract. I would recommend talking to an employment lawyer. You could probably get all you need out of an hour's conversation. It would likely cost you between 150 to 300 bucks, depending on the experience of the lawyer.

  17. Let’s not blame staff—it’s not their fault that leadership in the hospital don’t prioritize patients. As a nurse, I’ve got to prioritize patients—grandma urinating on herself isn’t going to kill her but a patient with Afib RvR needs attention. Put that kind of rant or passion towards hospital administration. Too often we blame other staff members because it’s what we see and it’s easy to blame people who have little to no power, especially if you think they are beneath you. Nurses, techs, RTs and etc, they care about patients too just as you do and they get frustrated. Don’t get lost on the bottom and blame or take your frustration out on your staff. Take it up with someone who can actually change the system.

  18. It’s interesting you took my post as blaming staff when it’s actually the opposite of that. It’s unfortunate we are ALL in this situation.

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