Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
Compassion fatigue is the result of the increasing and unnecessary demands placed on healthcare workers.
All medical practitioners know this feeling — the moment when a patient’s family members tell you how to do your job.
We’re A Hospital, Not A Hotel
One time, after finally completing my procedures, I was walking down the hall when I saw a new patient, a mother with perfectly manicured nails and a designer handbag.
“How long is this going to take?” She asked irritably. We were still triaging (taking a history of illness and vital-signs) her kids. It turns out she had checked her whole family into the Emergency Department for a mild cough and runny nose.
Another time, a guy came to the Emergency Department complaining of sore throat and mild ear pain. When he checked himself in, he was holding a McDonald meal and a can of Pepsi.
When the nurse finally triaged him, he screamed in the nurse’s face: “I’ve been waiting for half an hour. This hospital is terrible!”
I’ve been a healthcare professional in a private hospital for 4 years. I can’t recall the countless times I’ve experienced aggressive mistreatment or blatant rudeness by patients and their family.
I’ve been threatened, had doubts raised about my ability, or had people flat-out physically getting in the way of care.
My colleagues in the ward have told me that some patients use their calling bell to get them to change the TV Channel, pour some water in their glass, or recline their beds for them.
These were all reasonable requests in theory, except the patients in question were extremely mobile and well enough to do these tasks by themselves. Are they confused whether they checked into a hotel or a hospital?
Here’s how much work a nurse really does on her day-to-day rounds
Now, in our prevailing culture of litigation for medical malpractice, there is an ever-increasing need for documentation.
We are required to justify what we do for patients, so that third-parties like health insurance require proof of what we are billing for.
So the same nurse who attends to you has to do vital sign charting, key information into the computer system, go to the pharmacy for medications, prepare forms for the doctors or consultants, bring you to the Radiology Department to get an X-ray, CT scan or MRI, take your blood samples, clear any mess made by patients, assist doctors and co-workers with other procedures, and perform various other tasks.
The same nurse is the only one who knows what to document when the insurance reps come over.
What do you think happens when only 2 nurses are working in the Emergency Department on 7 patients in a row within 1 hour? It means that we’re completely overwhelmed with work.
Of course, the patient will say: “But I am paying for your services!”
Dear patients, let me clarify that just because you are paying, doesn’t mean we’re entitled to be humiliated, treated like a doormat, or to be screamed in our faces.
This is how hospital management rolls on — staffing crunches let 3 nurses deal with 20 patients in the ward.
We often have to get through our entire shift without a chance to eat nor pee. Often enough, we have to stay over and do our chores and documentations, because we didn’t get adequate opportunity to do so on our shifts.
One time, my management let only 2 workers run the Emergency Department. I needed to wait until the next shift nurse came and took responsibility before I could end my shift.
After 4 years of working in the private healthcare sector, I’ve been feeling compassion fatigue.
The workload creates an environment where they are overwhelmed with unresolved ethical conflicts, verbal and physical abuse, poor administration and management support.
And all the while, patients demand more….more…more…..
We are so tired of being treated as modern slaves, all while we are trying to provide highly technical and complicated care to improve the quality of services.
Let’s remember that a nurse is a human being.
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