Thursday, June 7, 2012

Knock, knock. Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock . . .

Work is an extremely busy and chaotic environment.  One of the more annoying aspects of my coworkers is that they interrupt and expect you to drop everything and do whatever they just told you to do.  I was drawing up medication from a vial into a syringe in the locked medication room when an attendant decided to tell me, as opposed to the nurse at the desk, that he was leaving the floor to go to his car.  In other words, not an urgent matter.  He banged on the door.  I kept my back turned and continued focusing on the medication.  He banged again but this time didn't stop.  This is very distracting.  If I draw up too much or too little medication, or the wrong medication, there could be serious consequences for the patient and I would be blamed- not the attendant.  When I finished drawing up the medication, I went to the door, syringe in hand.  "What's the emergency?" I asked.

"Didn't you hear me knocking?" he quipped, annoyed.

"Didn't you see me drawing up medication?" I retorted.  "Don't interrupt me when I am measuring medications."

"All you had to do was come to the door," he answered back.

"I can't concentrate on medications and answer the door at the same time," I tried explaining, but I knew it was useless.  The prevailing behavior at this facility, as well as all the prior ones where I have worked, is to interrupt the nurse incessantly while she is giving medication.  And it is the nurse's fault for not stopping the medication pass to deal with whatever non-urgent matter that does not need to be addressed by a nurse, yet someone else has decided to dump in the nurse's lap.  Examples:  clogged toilets, getting coffee on the breakfast tray when tea was specifically ordered, needing a menu of the new Chinese place that opened around the corner to plan for a lunch that is four hours away, and so forth.  It seems to be a crime against humanity if I delay someone for a nanosecond, yet it is perfectly okay for people to ignore me or keep me from doing a task.

"If you can't do two things at once, then you shouldn't be a nurse," was the reply.  This is my support staff talking.

"When you become a nurse, you can do two things at once and we'll see how quickly you lose your license.  What do you need?"

"I'm just letting you know that I'm going to my car to get something, since you think you're in charge," was the reply.  He turned to leave.

"No.  I AM in charge and you are not leaving the unit.  That was a non-urgent matter that did not justify interrupting me and risking a patient's safety.  I need you to assist with the patient so I can administer this injection."

"You can't tell me that I can't leave!" he roared and stormed out of the unit.

I have to go to my car is a code for I am leaving the unit to socialize on other units and will return when I feel like it.  This particular attendant comes and goes as he pleases, so his "asking" to leave was designed merely to interrupt and bother me.  The supervisor's position is that no patient harm results from his behavior, so I need to stop bothering him and let him do his job.  My point is that he does not do his job, regardless of what I do or don't say.  When no attendants are on the floor, I can't perform my specific nursing duties.  I have to cover for the absent attendants while my charting waits, orders aren't carried out, and phone calls are not made.  In the meantime, more work comes in and piles up until an attendant saunters back to the unit, defiantly observing that it was okay that he was missing because nothing happened.

Although I never thought that his particular attendant was a hard worker, he became so nasty towards me about six weeks ago when I was running the unit.  The usual nurses were out and I ended up becoming  a permanent weekend fixture because of a maternity leave.  He innocently asked, "Who's the charge nurse today?" and when I replied, "I am," he started disappearing.  When I approached him about his absences, he denied it, and then screamed for all to hear, "You're not in charge.  Let's get that straight right now.  I don't care what anyone else says.  I do not take orders from you, so you better leave me the hell alone, woman."  This uproar was met with praises from some of the other staff, such as "You go!  Who does she think she is, telling us we can't leave when we want?  She can't tell us what to do."  He was gone for most of the shift, except for brief appearances when he could be heard shouting similar sentiments to nobody in particular.  I knew I had no recourse with the shift supervisor of the day, so that Monday I tried my luck with the unit manager.

"You're in charge.  You are not supposed to LET them talk to you that way.  He doesn't say things like that to me, so obviously you are the problem."

I can't wait for that nurse on maternity leave to return so I can go to a different unit on the weekends.  This post turned into more of a complaint than I meant it to be.  It's just that certain other employees make my day so miserable because of their nastiness as well as their non-performance.  They interrupt and challenge me to an altercation all day instead of caring for the patients.  This is so draining, distracting, and results in poor patient care.  The patients recognize what is going on.  They are quite observant.  They offer me support, but it is supposed to be the other way around.

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