Nursing Woes: Angry Person 1 inch From my Face
The ER is a dynamic place. You encounter people of different ethnicities, socioeconomic classes and apparently, temperaments. The other day while in triage, a patient’s family member came about one inch from my face. They were angry, and we were busy taking care of a line of people. That’s when they started to escalate. They started yelling, and reaching over the counter with their finger at us. At the time, I wasn’t visibly pregnant, my coworker was, but that didn’t seem to deter this angry bird. It’s funny, in these types of situations there is no time to think, you just act, I guess. I pressed the silent security alarm, paged overhead for staff and security, and within seconds we had backup. Eventually the police came because the family wasn’t deescalating with our resources.
This wasn’t the first time this has happened and probably won’t be the last time. Unfortunately, on a daily basis, staff in the ER are verbally and physically abused by patients and family members alike. A few months ago, Texas passed a bill that treats assaults against emergency personnel as a third degree felony, it used to be a misdemeanor. A third degree felony is punishable by a fine from $0 up to $10,000 and penitentiary time of 2 to 10 years. BRAVO!!! From what I understand, in California, you get a little slap on the wrist compared to a third degree felony (fine up to 1,000 and penitentiary time not exceeding 6 months.) Please correct me if this information is wrong, this is what I found in the California penal code: 241 c.
I love my job, but not when I have to deal with knuckleheads. People need to understand that we are always trying our best. The next time you go to an ER, if there is a line or it looks busy, please note that the staff in the back aren’t playing darts and eating bonbons. They are taking care of sick people, you know: people that can’t breathe, people having a heart attack…..maybe even a stroke, etc. No ER likes a lobby full of sick patients, we want you in a bed asap where we can take care of you. I heard of a true story from a coworker: there was a man that interrupted a resuscitation of a patient in order to ask when someone would see their family member that was a patient (this patient was stable: breathing and perfusing.) Who does that?
True statements I’ve heard from working in the ER:
“When is the doctor coming? I’ve been in the room for 5 minutes!!!”
“I have to work in an hour, can we zip through this whole process in that amount of time?”
“I can’t breathe.” (speaking full and complete sentences with no distress noted whatsoever)
“That person that just got taken back looked like they didn’t have insurance, why were they brought back before me?”
Anyway, I can go on……and on………and on. Please think of me the next time you have to wait at your local ER and try not to be the angry bird that harasses the pregnant ladies ;)
Questions for you: How has your experience been at ER’s? Have you ever encountered people being rude because they had to wait or have you been that person? Any experiences from other nurses or anyone else working in hospitality/customer service?