Nurses, Doctors and Verbal Abuse: A Conflicted View on Healthcare Professionals




Healthcare professionals deal with a variety of confusing and emotionally charged situations daily. Some of those situations are pleasant and some are not, but all of them require an appropriate response. Nursing staff, for example, are required to care for patients with varying degrees of physical and mental health. This includes patients who are well and patients who are in need of specialized care. Verbal abuse from patients is a common problem for many healthcare professionals. Because of this, many healthcare professionals are conflicted about whether it is appropriate to respond to verbal abuse from patients. Some healthcare professionals believe that any response to verbal abuse is a sign of weakness and will make the problem worse. Others believe that ignoring verbal abuse can lead to more serious problems, such as depression or even suicide. The following article explores the topic of verbal abuse from patients and the conflicting views of healthcare professionals on this issue.

What is verbal abuse from patients?

Verbal abuse from patients occurs when a patient makes hurtful or abusive comments directed at a healthcare professional. This can happen in any healthcare setting, including doctor’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other health care providers. Many healthcare workers are aware that verbal abuse from patients is a common problem, but a significant number don’t know how to respond. Often, the person being verbally abused doesn’t know how to respond either. This type of abuse is different from normal, everyday tension that can arise during conversations. Even though the verbal abuse from patients often hurts, it is still just words.

Why are healthcare professionals conflicted about verbal abuse?

There are a few different reasons why healthcare professionals are conflicted about verbal abuse. First, some healthcare workers believe that verbal abuse is never appropriate, and they feel a sense of shame and guilt if they respond in any way. Second, verbal abuse can be a confusing issue for healthcare workers, who may not know how to respond appropriately. Finally, some healthcare workers are afraid of violating patient confidentiality and violating HIPAA laws by responding too strongly to verbal abuse.

Should nurses respond to verbal abuse from patients?

A nurse, who is caring for a patient with a physical health condition, is frustrated by the patient’s constant complaining and complaining about the nurse. The nurse feels frustrated by the patient’s complaints, but also guilty because she knows the nurse has done the best she can with the patient. After a long day of caring for the patient, the nurse has had enough. The nurse takes a deep breath and tries to ignore the complaining. The nurse thinks, “I’ve tried to be patient with this patient. I’ve tried to be understanding. I’ve tried to be kind. But she won’t stop complaining. She won’t stop being rude to me. It hurts my feelings, but I can’t do anything about it. I just have to try to be patient, kind, and understanding.” Some people call this the ‘nurse patient bind’. They believe that nurses can feel ‘bound’ by their nursing duties and by their patient’s needs. With a patient who is constantly complaining, the nurse feels ‘bound’ to try to be patient and understanding, even if the nurse wants to scream back, “Stop complaining. Stop being rude. I’ve tried to be patient with you, but you won’t stop.” Some healthcare workers feel ‘bound’ to try to be ‘patient,’ ‘understanding’ and ‘kind,’ even if the healthcare worker is just worn out by the patient’s complaining.

Should doctors respond to verbal abuse from patients?

A doctor is examining a patient and asks a few questions. The patient complains to the doctor about the cost of his or her medical care. The doctor is annoyed by the complaining, but also feels a sense of frustration because the doctor knows that the patient has some health issues that are driving the complaining. After a long day treating patients, the doctor is feeling worn out and frustrated. The doctor tries to focus on the patient and ignore the complaints, but the patient keeps complaining about something. The doctor thinks, “I’ve tried to be patient with this patient. I’ve tried to be understanding. I’ve tried to be kind. But he’s complaining about something that happened months ago and has nothing to do with his health. He won’t stop complaining.” Some people call this the ‘doctor patient bind.’ They believe that doctors can feel ‘bound’ by their medical duties and by their patient’s needs. With a patient who is constantly complaining, the doctor feels ‘bound’ to try to be patient and understanding, even if the doctor wants to scream back, “Stop complaining. Stop being rude. I’ve tried to be patient with you, but you won’t stop.” Some healthcare workers feel ‘bound’ to try to be ‘patient,’ ‘understanding’ and ‘kind,’ even if the healthcare worker is just worn out by the patient’s complaining.

Conclusion

Healthcare professionals deal with a variety of confusing and emotionally charged situations daily. Some of those situations are pleasant and some are not, but all of them require an appropriate response. Nursing staff, for example, are required to care for patients with varying degrees of physical and mental health. This includes patients who are well and patients who are in need of specialized care. Verbal abuse from patients is a common problem for many healthcare professionals. Because of this, many healthcare professionals are conflicted about whether it is appropriate to respond to verbal abuse from patients. Some healthcare professionals believe that any response to verbal abuse is a sign of weakness and will make the problem worse. Others believe that ignoring verbal abuse can lead to more serious problems, such as depression or even suicide. The following article explores the topic of verbal abuse from patients and the conflicting views of healthcare professionals on this issue.