Rights and Responsibilites

We’ve all had to read and sign that form: Rights and Responsibilities. I wish I had read that a little closer. I’ve googled and searched until my fingers hurt, trying to find what rights nurses get. Because I’m beginning to get the feeling we don’t really have many. Our responsibilities outweigh the rights, which to me makes sense, but it still seems a bit unfair. Our job causes us to have a lot of responsibilities with the main one being: human life. And I dig that, I really do. I wouldn’t have gone to nursing school and taken the NCLEX and done all the things I needed to do to become one. I’m fully aware of that.

My big gripe is simple. Why don’t nurses get the respect they deserve? It’s very simple, really. We don’t. It’s been my understanding that nurses are often viewed as nuns are, selfless and always giving and compassionate. And yes – we should be. When deserved.

Clearly, being an LPN, I didn’t become a nurse for the awesome paycheck (note sarcasm.) And I certainly don’t make what I should for what I do. And the hierarchy of nursing astounds me. Basically, the less hands on time you have directly with patients, the more you make. Makes sense, right? So the managers, the paper pushers and the researchers make more. The direct patient care givers make less. Simple. Fair? Not so much, but simple.

I’m going somewhere with this, I swear.

I was reading an article in some British newspaper that was about a nurse who had sexual relations with a hospice patient and while I was appalled, I was more interested in the following article about a patient in Alaska who was positive for Hepatitis C was sued for spitting on a nurse for attempted murder.

Wha?!? I thought to myself. The nurse won? The nurse actually stood up for herself and won?

I was amazed.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t think everyone really, truly gets it. I’ve been called every name in the book, hit, punched, spit on, kicked (while pregnant,) scratched…you name it. And most of my coworkers have been, too. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that they all have been.

The way I look at it, if you’re confused, scared and demented, then OK. It’s not right, but OK. You can’t help yourself. But by God, when you’re that person who knows what you’re doing, that’s assault.

So often for us, it’s the nurse who’s blamed for everything. If the patient who knowingly hits us ends up with an injury because of their action, it’s our fault. If a patient knowingly refuses to let us help them walk to the bathroom or assist them and they turn off their bed alarm, and they fall, it’s our fault. If someone dies suddenly and the nurse ‘didn’t do everything they could have to help them,’ then it’s our fault.

But when we get beat up and spit on, who do we go to for help?

In the situation in Alaska, the nurse called the cops. And to that, I say bravo! Our hospital security doesn’t do anything for us that way. Patient rights probably bar that. And I know I’ve been at work before when we’ve had to call the cops on a patient. But the times we do call vs the times we should call are totally off.

I’m human. I get up, go to work, do my job. In the time that I’m there, I don’t think I warrant someone hurting me physically or emotionally. And I don’t think my coworkers deserve that, either. I became a nurse to help others. I became a nurse because I truly care.

But I don’t care when patients are being ridiculous.

Where have people’s respect gone? Everyone thinks they deserve everything and no one else should benefit. We have become an increasingly selfish society and unfortunately it’s being taken out on the people who’s job is to help them live a better life. How are we, as professionals, supposed to help those who don’t want to be helped? Or blame us for why they’re the way they are? Or refuse for us to do our job when clearly, they came to the hospital to get aid?

I promised myself I’d never become jaded, but the more often these things happen, the closer I get to becoming so. Those who are kind deserve my attention far before those who are spitting at me and telling me to “Get the (explicit) out of my room.”

In the past, I’ve even had a patient flick his own poo at me. I was one happy camper when he decided to leave AMA (against medical advice) and left the building. See ya, so long!

There was also an article about a teacher in California who called the cops because she didn’t feel that the administration was doing enough when students were coming to her and saying a child was bullying them.  (Bullying included choking and hitting.) The child in question actually said he’d bring a gun into school! What’s a teacher to do? Yet, the administration suspended her.

If my kid went to that school, I’d back that teacher up 110%. I don’t put up with shit, neither should she. And those kids are safe now because of her.

Again, another situation of “Well, you’re a teacher/nurse/public servant, you should have to put up with this stuff.” Reality check, NO. No I shouldn’t.

So, in conclusion, when/if you should ever have to stay in a hospital and/or be under the direct care of a nurse, remember these helpful tips:

1. The hospital is not  Hilton and I don’t play fetch. I’ll gladly get you what you want, but demanding has its time and place. Save it for your family.

2. Physical abuse is a no-no. Remember what your teacher told you in kindergarten and keep your hands to yourself.

3. If you don’t want to get better, then stay home and don’t bother me. Wasting my time and patience is just as mean as hitting me.

4. If you need psychiatric help and that’s why you are being the way you are, then please, get the help you need. Because just because you don’t know me personally does not warrant you to treat me like your personal punching bag.

5. I understand you’re sick/hurting/dying. I understand that. I went to school and everything. So let me say, I can handle some snarkyness, but just try to keep a lid on it.

6. Karma is a bitch.


About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on January 24, 2011, in Cassie and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. That makes me absolutely furious for you! I don’t understand what makes people feel entitled to physically hurt or verbally abuse you. Don’t they realize they are in your care?

    I’ve been fortunate to have great nursing care every time I’ve been in the hospital and I make sure to let the nurses know how much I appreciate them.

    I hope you get some of that too.

    • Oh don’t worry. 97% of my patient load are fabulous, kind, and understanding. It’s just when you get one bad apple, it ruins the whole shift.

      And I won’t say that nurses are perfect, either.

      When I was in the postpartum unit after having Claire, I had an unfortunate experience where my night nurse came in, woke me up, woke Claire up and said, “Baby needs to eat now,” and physically grabbed my boob and thrusted Claire at it. Inappropriate, perhaps? I demanded a new nurse and refused her to even touch me.

      So I often wonder how often patients put up with shitty nurses.

  2. I think people figure that if a place has beds, it must be like a hotel, so alla yinz are really just over-educated concierges.

    I’ve had 2 hospital stays and each time, I bent over backwards to be nice to my nurses, because I realized that they factored large into the quality and comfort of my stay. I didn’t want to be on their bad side, AT ALL. So I even joked with the squat little nurse that had to shave my personal private parts. No way would I tick off someone going down there with a cutting instrument.

  3. Well put. Working in hospitals was actually killing my faith in mankind. I wouldn’t say I was jaded as much as disgusted – by coworkers and higher-ups as well as patients. My faith is slowly returning with this new job, so that’s a good thing.

    And yes Karma is a bitch.

    And I still say I’ve got it better as an IV nurse cause you never wanna piss off the nurse with the needles. 🙂

  4. Poo-flicking should be grounds for wheeling the patient outside (preferably to the area where the ambulances come squealing into the driveway) and dumping him or her unceremoniously on the pavement.

  5. Amen, Krankenschwester (that’s German for nurse, literally meaning “sick sister”). I’ve only been in the hospital twice as an adult patient (childbirth, of course) and was nice to my nurses and, luckily, had good ones as well.

    The sense of entitlement unfortunately goes beyond the hospital walls in almost every field where people have to “serve” others. As you know, I face this a lot in my job as a professor, but you’ll find this kind of attitude in places like the post office. As if any of us were sent here to do every little thing people need and if something doesn’t go their way it’s some personal vendetta. It’s ridiculous and disgusting how Americans have become.

    In the infamous words of the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, “I can’t get no respect.” Word.

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