In the mix: Ways to drive the complaining patient and family nuts

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, July 12, 2010

No matter how long you are in the nursing profession, you will always have to deal with patients and their family members. When a patient is hospitalized, it can be a very difficult time for family members, causing them to become more sensitive then normal. It is important to remember how you treat the patient and their family. Here are two scenarios that can aggravate the patient and their family, and suggestions to help avoid these situations:

  1. It drives patients and families nuts when we get defensive. If we take complaints personally and say things like “I only work here” or “It’s not my fault,” we make matters worse. We need to keep calm, stay objective, and avoid judging, acting superior or making excuses.
  2. It drives customers nuts when we coldly cite “policy” as our reason why we can’t do what the customer wants. Statements like “I’m sorry, but that’s the way we do things here” or “It’s our policy” infuriate patients and families, because they make it sound like we care more about protecting ourselves than serving their needs. We need to somehow give them at least one option in line with policy or find ways to bend rules when we know we’re acting in the patient’s and organization’s best interests.

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