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February 5, 2016

Dear Doctor,

By | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Heard at the Nurses Station (TM)

“Hi! NurseyNurse, RN here! Your patient Mr T R Ainwreck has crackles in bilateral bases and complains of dyspnea.  His SpO2 is 85% on 4 liters nasal cannula.  He had a neb treatment, and his heart rate is 115, resps are 26, B/p is 168/84.  Would you like  a BNP, some  Lasix and a chest x-ray?”

<shouting on the other end of the phone>

“No Doctor, I was not telling you how to take care of your patient at all.  I was using my nursing judgment and suggesting possible diagnostic testing and treatment.

<more delightful shouting>

“No, I did not go to medical school. You are correct.  Yes, I do know what time it is, but your patient appears to be in distress and….no…..he is still breathing but quite rapidly and…. Yes, thank y-”

<puts phone down>

<writes phone orders for a BNP, 40mg of Lasix, and a CXR>

<thinks about new career>

Did that look familiar to you?

Abusive and disrespectful Physicians are not a new thing.  Since the days when we were required to put out our cigarettes and stand when a Doctor entered the nurses station, there have been issues with this.  Hardly any nurse has not had an incident.  Florence Nightingale probably had to bite her tongue a few times.

What happens if a Doc is disrespectful and abusive at your hospital? Where I work, the physician will be sternly talked to, written up, and probably not ever fired.  This is a common theme in healthcare.  Tell me about your experiences with this nonsense, and what we can do to come together as a healthcare team instead of a physician abusing you because you woke him or her up for a valid reason at 0200.

My Suggestions for fixing this situation:

  • Be clear with the physician that he is inappropriate and unprofessional. 
  • Explain that you will use your hospital’s grievance system to call this to the attention of the medical director.
  • Ask the Physician at the very first sign of anger if she is on call. “You seem to be upset, would you prefer I phoned someone else?”
  • Maintain your professional language and tone.  You are right.  Don’t make yourself a target by returning the attitude.

Anything that you would like to add? Let me know!









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