Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wrong Person Snapped

"Can you get me some Vaseline?  My lips are so chapped," one of the attendants said to me.

An attendant.  Not a patient.

"You can get some yourself," I coolly replied and then turned to the patient sitting next to the attendant.  The patient was crying.

"Why are you crying?" I asked the patient.  She is emotionally labile.  Crying one minute, laughing the next, anxious after that.  For no reason.

"My hand hurts," she babbled in between sobs, holding her right hand with the left.  The right was more swollen than the left with some purple bruising on the fingers.

"What happened to your hand?" I asked the patient.

"He hurt me!" she blurted out and turned to look at a male patient across the room.

The attendant chimed in, "Oh, Michael, he sat next to her, holding her hand, then all of a sudden he bent her hand until it snapped.  Can you PLEASE get me the Vaseline now?  I said PLEASE.  Is that what you want to hear so that you will DO YOUR JOB?"

I was furious.  "Are you kidding me?  You interrupt me all day with your own personal requests, ignoring the patients, and then you watch a patient break the hand of another patient, but that is not important enough for you to tell me."

"I didn't know the hand was broken.  I'm not THE NURSE.  You are.  You are supposed to know these things," the little snot retorted.

She doesn't get it.  None of the attendants do.  And this is my license on the line.  My livelihood.

The break had to be reported to the state.  I had volumes of paperwork to complete on both patients.  And the supervisor of the day had never worked as a floor nurse.  She is fresh out of a BSN/MSN in nursing leadership program from a local private university.  She kept calling me with Nursing 101 questions.  "You know to call for xrays, right?  My textbook says you need to get xrays.  I have it in the office in case you want to come and read it."  And, "Did you give pain medication?  Broken bones can be painful.  Remember, you need doctor's orders for all of this."  And finally, "Do I have to keep calling you to tell you what to do, or do you know?"

I stopped answering her non-stop phonecalls, so she actually got up from the office and came to the ward.  She decided to confront the offending patient on the floor, complete with yelling and waving her finger.  The patient exploded, but didn't hit her.  She has no patient management skills.  The attendants had to get up to control the patient, making them angrier than usual.  The supervisor returned to me and said, "See?  That's how you do it.  You need to tell them off," and returned to her office, leaving me to deal with the mess she created.

This is an unfortunate incident but thank goodness I caught it and reported it.  Much better than having a subsequent shift find the injury and then launch an investigation.


  1. You have to tel them off?! Hopefully you're there when she tells off the chronic schiz off. You can bandage her up and get X-rays for her broken bones after he's done telling her off. My techs like to sleep and leave their phones in the hallway. I'm waiting for a pt to knock them on their asses. I like to play hide the phone when I see them left out alone.

  2. That is so unfortunate that you are in a similar situation. Makes me feel less alone, though. Thank you for sharing.