How Should You Deal With Your Patient’s Family

How Should You Deal With Your Patient’s FamilySometimes it’s easier to handle patients than their families. If you are a quiet and timid type of person, you’ll find it harder to deal with stressed and nervous family members. Again, if you are aggressive and impatient, you’ll feel that the family members should realize you’re here to do good, and they shouldn’t pester you. Yes, people can be strange and they might say many unfair things but you’ve got a job to do.

Here are a few tips on how to deal with your patient’s family.

Be Truthful

If the family is close to a doctor, the doctor will take care of this. If the doctor is busy, nurses will need to communicate news of bereavement, negative outcomes or other updates. If it’s your lot to communicate something that you know the family will not like, do your best to be truthful. Don’t paint the truth in different colors just because it’s hard for you to be straight with the facts. Hide your own sensitivity and tell the facts as they are. This does not mean you have to be cold and harsh. Empathize with the family but do not put your emotions on display. With your calm, honest, professional and sober attitude, you’ll be able to calm grieving and angry family members.

Do Not Volunteer Information

Only communicate what you need to communicate. If surgery is being held up by a few hours because the surgeon has a migraine, just communicate that the surgery will be delayed. Do not give out reasons that can come back and bite you later. Never over communicate. Do not express your personal opinions as to how things are being run in the hospital and why you think the surgery was delayed. Remember patients are always suing hospitals for a variety of reasons. Do not give out information that can be used against the hospital.

Do Not Indulge In Personal Conversations

A patient’s family is just that; a patient’s family. They’re not there for you; they’re there for their family member. You have no reason to make personal friends out of them. Keep your conversations polite, calm, professional and to the point. If it looks as though a patient’s family member wants to talk to you to relieve their anxiety, just assure them, repeatedly if you need to, that everything possible is being done. Refuse to contribute to personal questions, gossip about the hospital and any other kind of personal talk. All this gives a hospital a bad reputation, apart from being potentially litigious at a later date.

Stay Calm In The Face Of Grief Or Anger

Grief is the toughest emotion and most of us find ourselves ill equipped to deal with it. It’s one thing to experience grief; it’s another to watch someone go through it and feel helpless. Nurses feel helpless when they have to deal with grief-ridden patients who’ve just been told that a loved one didn’t make it. First off, if you’re the nurse, you need to stay calm. Show your sympathy through your voice and your expression but stay detached. Grief causes people to behave in strange ways. The first reaction is usually to find someone to blame for their loss and that person might be you. Offer your condolences and help them with their paperwork if that’s your job, but stay unruffled, detached and professional. Let the grieving family know that while you’re sad for them, deaths are part of your vocation at the hospital.

Dealing With Ethical Issues That Involve Patient’s Family

A number of ethical dramas occur in hospitals. For example, a nurse could be pro-life, while a patient insisting on abortion could be pro-choice. It’s the patient’s decision and if the law permits it, there’s nothing the nurse can do. However, the nurse will still have to support the patient through their decision and deal with the patient’s family calmly. All this calls for a major adjustment of attitude.

Sometimes a patient might need to be told the truth about a certain medical condition he or she is facing. It’s possible that the family is preventing the nurse from telling the patient the truth. What does the nurse do in this case? Tell the truth and antagonize the family and perhaps give them grounds for litigation? Or go with the family and not tell the truth, in which case the patient’s right to the truth is violated?
Distribution of resources causes another issue. Patients on life support vie with patients with a good chance of recovery for the same limited resources. Who deserves these resources better? The family members of the vegetating patient will obviously choose their loved one while the nurses will feel more of a duty towards the one that they can save.

Here are few tips on how to deal with ethical dilemmas that involve patient’s family:
1.Check hospital rules in each case, as well as what the law says. If you find the right guidance, go by it.
2.Talk to your seniors and get the majority opinion in critical cases. Abide by the majority opinion.
3.If the matter is left to you, make the choice that you have to make as part of the care giving team. When there’s a choice, there’s just one way to go, either left or right. You cannot please everyone.
4.Convey your decision to the family members as calmly as possible. Deal with their reactions in a professional manner. Let them know that when they trust you to provide care, they have to leave certain decisions to you.
5.Get someone from the staff to support you through any adverse family reactions.
6.Always keep your seniors and the administrators informed of any major decision you need to take. Obtaining their ok and support in advance can keep you safe.

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