Patients are ill and out of their comfort zone, they have very little control while in the hospital, they’re dependent on others to bring them food, assist them to the bathroom, help them with their hygiene and, of course, for their medical needs.
I don’t know how nursing became a concierge type service.
Somehow, the government now has decided to include patient satisfaction as one of the factors to go into reimbursement. Now, highly trained professional nurses on the front line to patient care, are required to ensure that patients are satisfied with their care even though the patient may not know what care is in their best interest.
The patient does not know whether a nurse is good or bad. They don’t whether doctors are good or bad and they don’t know whether lawyers are good or bad. They just have to trust that the professionals are properly doing their jobs.
Patients are out of their comfort zone and not in control of their circumstances; it causes anxiety, which can lead patients to complain. Unfortunately, as in most consumer services, management looks at the patient as always being right. So, the question becomes, how do we protect ourselves?
Often it is the minor things that create anxiety in a patient such as not answering call lights in a timely manner, not changing them in a timely manner and allowing them to be soiled for a longer period of time, not making sure their nutrition and hydration needs are met, not making sure the patient’s comfort needs are met, talking to a patient in a hurried or insistent tone and waking them up at night. All of these can cause a patient to be upset leading to a complaint about you.
Unfortunately, these are not circumstances where you get to be “right.” If a patient complains, management likely will side with the patient.
The best defense is an offense! Know what might trigger a patient to be upset. Know the things such as what I listed above that may cause a patient to become upset. If you go into a patient’s room and if you need to confront an issue with the patient, make sure that you bring in another person to witness. If there is any concern that you and a patient are not “on the same page,” ask to change the patient assignment.
In an ideal world, patients would be satisfied with care from all providers. Just like outside the hospital, everyone has their own personality and things others can say might rub you the wrong way.
Just be conscientious and if you suspect a patient complaint, be proactive and go to your manager first and let your supervisor know. Hopefully, this won’t happen but these are always great tools to have in your back pocket just in case.
If you are written up, watch my video from last week. Here is the link: https://yournurseattorney.com/happens-get-disciplined-work/
How does your facility handle patient complaints? Do you have any tips on how nurses might prevent patient complaints? I would love to hear them in the comments below.