I got an actual complaint to my manager today. It wasn’t serious, and it was not from my patient, it was another employee… which doesn’t matter nearly as much. Anyway, I haven’t had one of those in years. I guess I’ve been spoiled… but it’s still a shocker when you’re doing your best and someone talks smack on you. And it’s always a bummer to get that call, “Mr. Taylor, would you come into my office, I have something to discuss with you…” On the other hand, I guess it was expected. I think that as I get older, my tolerance for stupid people gets less and less. Sometimes, if they catch me off guard, I just blurt out what’s actually going through my mind. “Hey, did I just say that out loud?… whoops, I guess I did.” This was just another one of those things… and I explained it that way. I usually get off with only a warning when I explain it in a matter of “patient safety” when I make my plea. Also, I usually thrown in a little bit of the truth, and explain my lack of tolerance for stupid people. My manager was OK and almost agreeing with me. Then I kept on talking. This department is full of “little delicate flowers” they can’t take any criticism at all. This new little nursing student that was with me, she has to realize that nursing is serious and making mistakes isn’t exactly like working at Starbucks. When I looked up and saw the frown on my boss’s face, I decided it was time to stop talking.
In my early ER days, complaints were pretty common. Back then, I was “the delicate flower” and everyone else in the department was the battle hardened trauma nurse. Boy, do I remember how hard it was. But, ER nurses were all living on the edge and no one tolerated stupid. Stupid was about 80% of our business. Once back at MCV in Virginia, I was working the triage desk in the ER. It there was a woman who complained to my manager that I was “racist.” It was because I triaged two other guys before her mildly sick 3-year-old son with a sore throat. There was a 78yo with crushing chest pain, and a 32yo man with a gunshot wound one centimeter below the left nipple. The second guy walked in and asked for “an appointment.” He staggered a bit, as if he were drunk, then he passed out right in front of my desk. She even saw this guy fall and somehow thought she should come first. The funny thing was that all of them were the same race.
Just a note… when you come to the ER, you never, ever, ever, get service by order in which you arrive. This is the ER… not the DMV, and you don’t get to “take a number”. Keep in mind, if you come to the ER and the nurse “rushes you right in” it’s ok to go ahead and assume that you’re going to die very soon. Because of varying levels of illness, accompanied by layers of government bureaucracy, you will generally NOT get prompt service… Unless of course, you are actually dying, or this ER happens to be in Hicksville and you’re the only patient in the building.