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"10 Terrible Patients..."

"... You'll Find in Every Hospital... and How to Deal Wth Them."

10 Terrible Patients.... was brought to my attention. The blog is an on-line nursing degree archive, so taken seriously by their readers.

The 10 Terrible Patient descriptions (read the article for the details):

1. The Paranoid

2. The Penny Pincher

3. The Hypochondriac

4. The Complainer

5. The Talker

6. The Flirt

7. The Know-It-All

8. The Mind Changer

9. The Needer

10. The Deal-Maker

While I cannot imagine how hard it is to take care of strangers all day long, it does seem kind of sad that something like this is written about folks in the hospital.

That said, I see myself in several of those. I guess I'm not good patient, either. Is the only "good" patient one that's in a coma or dead?

Seems likely.

Reader Comments (14)

Sigh. These people really need to find another career. If they don't want to work with PEOPLE then they should do something else. How discouraging!

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

drat... they closed up ranks at OB nurses on the cafe mom site. Shucks.
I'm glad I cut and pasted it!
A few well placed comments from 'patients' seems to have made them flee to the comfort behind the lines.
drat. drat. drat. Especially since the 'moderator' was so upset when a friend has such a bad birth experience. I was going to try and comment on her sudden change of heart but I guess I'm too late.
Check out 'the rules of L & D' it made a lot of people sick!

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermm

You think that's bad, you should check out the list of L&D 'rules' which were recently posted to a cafemom board which I have linked to in a recent post.

The insensitivity is pretty mindblowing.

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMorag

When I was at the hospital having our 3rd baby, the nurse left my chart in my room (oops!) and I noticed a yellow sticky post-it note attached to the front of the chart which read: "Pt asks lots of questions". I guess she felt the need to forewarn her colleagues. @@

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHomeJewel

Thanks for the link! I wish I could see the replies!!

Sheesh. Become an auto mechanic if you hate people that much!

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Everyone needs to blow off steam sometimes... I'm a new nurse and even though I don't feel the way the person(s) who wrote these things feel... I can see how they got there.

Unfortunately RN/LPN school doesn't teach you much (if not next to squat) about birth (especially natural childbirth)... what it can teach you is just enough to feel "superior." (Which is apparent from some of the postings.) Also, people are ignorant. There's no two ways about it.

I used to work for a telephone company and people would call to ask why their phone was turned off... and they had not paid the bill in three months. Go figure.
Healthcare unfortunately is no different. Health is a bill we pay, too. Eat too much, smoke too much, party with the wrong substances and bad things happen.

I say all that to say that it's terrible to think that someone might be thinking those things who is providing care, and I sincerely hope that they just had a "really bad day or week or something" and they needed to blow off some steam... if not I hope that a person(s) like that will seriously consider a new career or some type of nursing which has limited patient contact.

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm a frequent reader, love your blog, link to your blog. I'm almost 50 years old, but I've only been a nurse for 3.5 years after parenting my 4 for 20 years. Worked in nursery and post-partum for 2.5 of my nursing years. I love the patient population, the helping with breastfeeding, the helping with the scary idea of adjusting to caring for the new person in their lives. Encouraging them, teaching them - it's all good. Maybe I've started in the profession too late to have time to burn out.
That being said, there are occasionally wacky people out there that after a couple of 12 hour days of work (or nights) can bring out the dark sense of humor in most people. Myself included. Fatigue can skew a way of looking at things. Fatigue doesn't necessarily mean that you need to find a new career. It might be that you just need rest. And you need to keep your dark humor off the internet, perhaps. Or prepare to be misunderstood. (I only skimmed the entry, finding it a bit too bitter sounding. I've got better things to read online - like here)

Some days are just plain tiring, when I am all out of words when I get home, all out of energy to serve my family in any meaningful way because I've been "serving" all day - but that doesn't mean I didn't find the "serving" very rewarding. I just need rest. Because I'm old. : - )

In my brief career, I've seen some wonderfully caring - I'd want them to be MY nurse - people out there. I continue to learn from them. The bitter - you need to get out of this field - nurses have been rare so far. If you're ever hospitalized and find yourself facing one of these people, please ask to speak to the charge nurse and ask for a different nurse.

Hopefully the previous commenter and I have given a more rational view of the "enemy". ...... (didn't mean to "blog" here, NGMW)

February 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBookwoman

I *do* understand being tired... and even wacky patients. If I wrote about every very strange person I had to interview with, my Net days would be very over.

What I found painful about the piece was the threatening, malicious, even abusive tone and ideas. When I tell stories of the crazy (and I *do* think many of them are clinically off) women I come across, the stories are told with humor and relief tha I no longer have to endure their oddities. But, I like to believe I am not *cruel* or wish I could stab them with a needle. Humanity is more important than someone's quirks.

And, I *have* learned to keep MANY of my thoughts off the Net because I aired them one too many times and had to overcome the repurcussions through depression, apologies (heart-felt) and a lot of inner working and writing.

But, you all do not KNOW how much I wish I could write about ALL the people I come across! I have some stories to tell!

Maybe after I die.... Hmmm.

February 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

It's hard to be in a serving profession (nursing or retail, for that matter) and not have days where you feel some resentment toward the people you serve. Considering that most serving professions are understaffed, underpaid, and have low prestige...well. Resentment isn't surprising.

What hurts about this list and the one morag mentions (which you should read, oh my god), is the *ignorance* they show about birth and women, and the implied racism, and unprofessional judgementalism about other people's sex lives. And that is a result of a dysfunctional medical culture, and a lot of other cultural issues too.

here's the link:

February 2, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

I THINK I LOVE YOU! No seriously, I've read your blog for a while (can't remember if I've ever commented or just nodded along silently) but this post makes me a diehard fan! I'm a big medical blog addict and recently have been working on giving up the hobby because I find it too depressing to see all the disgusting, negative comments about patients on sites such as the list o'stereotypes there. I decided it was time to quit when a blog actually made me cry with its callous "humor" about an overweight woman who had died and left behind two kids. I saw myself there on that table, taken away from my babies, and some asswipe laughing over my corpse, and what faith I had remaining in mainstream medical "care" was crushed to smithereens. Ick.

I am a "bad" patient. I am smart, and I am sensitive, and I read. If I have a question, I ask it. And OMG, when I or a loved one is having mysterious health stuff going on? I GET SCARED! That's the thing that baffles me about a lot of the nurse and doctor griping--the way they get mad at people to the point of feeling violent, for being scared. Not everyone has a degree in medicine, duh, not everyone understands exactly what is going on, especially when the "care" providers do a pisspoor job of explaining. I don't see how it makes someone ooooh so annoying to have normal human reactions to unexpected situations.

As for the excuse some make that "everyone needs to blow off steam" let me suggest a couple things:

1. Maybe do it somewhere PRIVATE so as to avoid undermining the public's trust or scaring people more or hurting people.

2. There are ways to blow off steam without making it overly personal. You can exercise, scream, pound some clay, you know, all that Mr. Rogers stuff. Calling people names, publically or privately, is NOT the only way to "blow off steam" about irritating customers or clients, no matter what profession one works in.

Retail workers put up with a lot of shit too and while their forums can get rowdy, I've never seen the amount of dehumanizing HATE from them that I see from doctors and nurses. It disturbs me!

February 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThea

Thea makes a good point! I work in the food industry, and I put up with my fair share of BS on a regular basis. Sometimes, yes, I do come home and gripe to my husband about a particularly difficult customer or situation. And I do feel better afterwards. But I'd never post on my blog about how everyone who eats in a restaurant is a rude, disgusting, horrible person and how I wish they'd all choke on their french fries and die already. Because they're not, and I don't.

And trust me, I can get pretty "burnt out" and even bitter too, although not on the same level I'm sure a hospital worker would. But, I am in this profession for a reason - I love it! If I didn't, then I would leave. Easy peasy.

February 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJill

I think many, many professions require you to deal with people at when they're difficult, vulnerable, or needy. I've worked in a few of them over the years. But I always tried to put myself in the other person's shoes and understand why they were causing me problems. That didn't always solve the problem, but it usually kept me from getting downright mean.

I would think that this would be a core of nursing -- how to treat patients with compassiion, despite what a bad day you're having. The stakes are pretty high. If a waitress is snotty and botches your order, you'll live. If a nurse disregards your concerns, you might not.

The hospital is just scary! Is it that hard to understand? What's normal if you work in a hospital is far from normal to the rest of us. Most of the types on this list are, underneath it all, simply scared.

February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

After reading the article, I am disturbed that people in real life are a lot like Dr. House. I figured it was true, but wow.

Anyway, on the note of complaining about people, my husband recently sent me the "50 things I've learned working at the bank" because he's a bank teller and a fellow teller forwarded it to him.

The tone of the email was SELF-deprecating, but true. Sadly, there are patients out there like these, in the most negative sense, but most patients are good, nice people who really just want to be treated like people. I don't see that happening in a lot of hospital situations, and that really frightens me.

When I had my first baby (by c-section) the nurse in the mother-infant "ward" that I had the first night was horrible. I don't know if she was having a bad night or what, but she was the least helpful person I've ever met in the medical professions. The tech I had, on the other hand, was awesome. She made up for the inefficiencies of the nurse that night, and what's ironic is that I was NOT a difficult patient to the nurse. I just needed my codeine and my baby, and no amount of calling her repeatedly was getting me anywhere. I guess I should have wised up and called the tech.

I also read the L&D rules yesterday, and was sickened by the obvious classism and racism, not to mention the blatant stereotyping of ALL laboring moms! It was sad to think that any person, even on their worst day, would post such a demeaning thing for all the world to see! If I needed to vent like that I'd do it in my journal ON PAPER and burn it the next day when I was over my frustration.

Your knowledge and experience are really great, by the way, and I enjoy reading your birth stories and the information you put out there about birth! I'm due in less than 3 weeks and I'm soaking up everything I can in the meantime about positive hospital VBAC experiences. I have a good doctor who seems to be on the same page as me, though the hospital nurses could be something entirely different.
Thanks for what you're doing!

March 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbetweenbabies

Thank you! I do my best. Thank you so much.

Much good luck on your upcoming birth. Do let us know how it goes!

March 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

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