Monday, July 8, 2013

You Tell the Tale: Family Matters

Welcome to the new You Tell the Tale section of the site!  As eluded to in the One Monthaversary contest last month, this is the section where you, the readers, get to decide how the stories should end. 

How it works:

Nurseables will start with a fictional account of a difficult nursing situation to get the discussion going.  Then, you write a comment about how you think the tale should end.  Here’s where Nurseables can really use your help and expertise to make this section a worthwhile read.  Anyone is welcome to write in, even if you don’t have a nursing background.  So write a comment, tell us your thoughts about the situation, play the role of a family member, the patient, management, the nurse or a fellow coworker.  Get creative, have fun and let’s learn from each other!

Just a couple of rules to keep in mind:

1.         Be cognizant of HIPPA, do not give any identifying information away in your discussion
2.         Be kind and courteous in your responses

(Disclaimer: This is an entirely fictitious situation and any similarity to characters or patients is completely coincidental.)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, suggestions and comments!


“Let me tell you, it was one crazy night!” Nurse Nocturnal pronounced as she plopped down to give me report.  Those aren’t normally the most encouraging words to start out a shift, but her weary eyes confirmed the story. 

Having already received report for the rest of my load, I realized it was going to be one busy kind of day.  With a smile leaning a little towards a grimace, I braced myself to hear the rest.  “Bed 23 over there was very confused and would have fallen out of bed had the doctor not ordered a low dose of Ativan to calm her down.  I was in there all night trying to make sure she didn’t hurt herself!  Man, there’s nothing like an infection to send our elderly folks over the cuckoo’s nest.  Can’t wait ‘til those antibiotics start kicking in and she gets back to her old self.  She came in last night and the Doc's diagnosed her with a UTI.”  And with a few more details about her condition and history, the day began.

Confirming my suspicions, the morning was full of running from one thing to another.  I barely had time to sit down and chart, let alone take care of my own needs.  Then, in the midst of performing a dressing change, I was notified over the intercom that the family wanted to see me regarding Bed 23… immediately. 

After letting the nursing station know that I would be a few minutes, I proficiently finished up the rest of my work and hurried down the hall to thank my patient’s family for coming in to see her.  Having them there would hopefully mean she'd calm down a little seeing a familiar face and give me a chance to catch up on my other work.  Little did I know, they were ready to strike the moment I entered the room…

“Why is my grandma confused?  She’s not normally like this!  What did you guys do to her?” the young woman standing at my patient’s bedside exclaimed.

“Well, she was having a rough night and we had to give her a little bit of anxiety medication to calm her down,” I replied, trying to calmly explain the situation to the distraught woman. 

“Calm her down?!  Calm her down from what?!?  My grandma never even raises her voice, let alone gets agitated.”

“From what I understand, she was very confused last night and was trying to get out of bed by herself.  They were very concerned about her safety.  It was about all the nurses could do to keep her from taking out her IV.”

“No, no, my grandmother is not like that.  You guys are mistaken.  What is wrong with her?  What have you done to my grandmother?!?”

You Tell the Tale:

How do you think this story should end?  What should the nurse do next?  Have you ever found yourself in a similar position?   What did you do?


  1. With a busy load of patients and an upset family member, it sounds like a situation that needs to be taken care of quickly if at all possible. When I’ve been in situations like that before, I’ve tried to show through my actions and words that I really care about my patient’s wellbeing because that’s what the family really wants to see. To diffuse the situation, I might first say, “You know what, just give me a few minutes to look over your grandmother and make sure she’s safe, then how about we step out into the hall so I can talk to you about how she is doing.” Every situation is different, but that technique has seemed to work well for me.

  2. "I must apologize for my daughter Nurse Diurnal,is it?", the patient's daughter chimed in. "She's obviously forgotten that her Grandma marches to the beat of a different drum on her best days. This, however, is over the top even by her standards."
    Drawing me aside, the daughter proceeded to tell me that her mother was convinced that the bathroom would explode if she used it, that the nurses were electrocuting her at night and she was going to be punished if the family didn't remove their glasses immediately and place them out of sight.
    "Does the doctor have any idea what is causing this behavior? Mental illness does run in the family but this seems to be so sudden. We'd appreciate any insight you could give us Nurse Diurnal." With a sigh of exhaustion, the patient's daughter looked into the room, hoping for.....well, hoping for just the slightest chance of a better tomorrow.

  3. LOVE the creativity!! Thanks for your input and for sharing different perspectives! And Nurse Diurnal... might have to keep that coming around in future posts! :)


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