Saturday, December 31, 2011
We named her “Snotty Nurse”. Not a very nice thing to call someone who works with critical care patients and sees what is probably the worst of the worst in the hospital. But, her bedside manner just wasn’t there. When the nurses change shifts or doctors did rounds she would say to anyone there quietly sitting at the patient’s bedside, “You have to leave” in a tone that was anything but pleasant. No explanation. When the patient, a 20 year old boy just opened his eyes and recognized me for the first time in over 24 hours and he squeezed my hand while scared from the ventilator breathing for him, I begged her to let me stay 2 more minutes. “He just opened his eyes and is holding my hand tight” I told her. “No, you have to leave” she said abruptly. Reluctantly I gathered my things and left so the doctors could talk about him without any input from the people who know him best.
She doesn’t say hello as all the other nurses do. There is no greeting or acknowledgement, but she will grunt something if someone is in her way or if we greet her with a “good morning”. She won’t explain things to the patient’s mother unless asked and when one guest tried to relay information, she gave a sarcastic reply.
I began to realize that this nurse can actually become a liability to a hospital. Were something to go wrong, the family may feel she didn’t listen and want to hold her, as a representative to the hospital, accountable. There was a time that the patient’s family didn’t want to “bother” her with information, that was important about the patient’s look which turned out to be relevant to this patient’s outcome.
Some people feel that bedside manner is irrelevant but the fact is bedside manner is an important piece of communication which can help predict an outcome. Most probably, the care will be fine and the outcome will be good. But, if not, I for one will wonder about this nurses patient care.