Nurse? May I have a word with you?

God love nurses. In most cases, they are the salt of the earth, providing comfort and care to those sick, afraid, and in pain.

But I REALLY hope God loves the nurses at the hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, where my mother is currently recuperating from pulmonary surgery. Because if God doesn’t love them, then nobody does. They are bitches from hell, and the flames of their demon master shine in their eyes.

Quick background: Mom had a mass in her chest wall, which we thought was cancer. She had surgery last week to remove the mass. Surgery went well, mass wasn’t cancer, all is gonna be fine.

Subsequent testing indicates the mass was tubercular. Mom is moved to an ICU unit, where they can treat her properly. Now, ICU units are so named because the level of care is greatly enhanced. I understand that. There aren’t as many patients in that unit, so nurses can respond much more quickly to a call.

But when Mom was moved to a standard room Saturday night, things went downhill rapidly. Today was the last straw, and thus the reason for my rant.

I understand that there are around 40 patients on this floor, and that a staff of six nurses (give or take; I don’t know the exact number) can’t respond immediately to a call. But 45 minutes is ridiculous. My mother was told by the doctor (and he wrote on her chart, which you’re supposed to read, nurse) that she was to sit in a chair for several hours each day to prevent fluid buildup in her lungs. Did you think she was just gonna levitate over to the chair? You know she can’t get out of bed by herself. So my mother called for a nurse. After 30 minutes went by, she decided she needed to sit up in the bed, so she tried. With no support. She already has a bad back, and the position of the chest tube is killing her when she sits up, but she’s afraid of getting pneumonia, so she does it.

About that 45-minute wait after pressing the call button … great move on your part, nurse, to send in the MAINTENANCE MAN before checking on your patient. I suppose it’s entirely possible that the bulb over her door was burned out, and that the call button she was pressing was wired into a different nurses’ station on a different floor, as you claim. It’s doubtful, but perhaps it really did happen. But when you discovered this mistake, why on God’s green earth did you not go down to check on the patient yourself? Why is your first thought to contact Maintenance and have them send a man up to fix the bulb over her door? You apparently discovered that the patient in that room had been buzzing for 45 minutes – did it not occur to you there may have been a REASON for that?

Oh, well. These little things can happen, I guess. I’d be willing to write that off as an example of technology gone bad. But your subsequent actions leave me gape-jawed with disbelief.

After the maintenance man leaves, two of you finally drag your corpulent carcasses 30 feet down the hall to check on the patient. She is now weeping in pain. This is a woman who has seen one of her children die, who has to put up with me as a son, who lived through the Great Depression … in short, she has seen much of what is bad in life. Thanks to your incompetence, you have reduced her to a crying ball of agony, unable to cope with what is happening to her. So obviously, the important thing to do is stand there for ten minutes with her medication in your hand and discuss your car payments, right? I’ve seen paramecium display more intelligence than that. Could you not give her the medication WHILE you’re talking, if the conversation is so important to you?

But wait! Your scintillating intellect tells you there is more to do for this woman! She was scheduled for her sponge bath at 10 a.m., so since it’s 12:50 p.m., might as well get cracking on it, right? A word of caution to you, though: When mixing soap and water for a sponge bath, it’s not advisable to use one part soap and one part water. See, she’s unable to rinse off. If you put that much soap on her, it’ll harden into a shell and she’ll become like a moth pupa, trapped in a cocoon of Ivory soap. Actually, you’d probably like that – with her arms and hands immobilized, she won’t be able to push that pesky “Nurse Call” button and interrupt your important discussion of what your boyfriend bought you for Valentine’s Day.

However, if you EVER – and I mean EVER – in my presence respond to my mother as you did when she pointed out that you used too much soap, I can guarantee you you’ll find out what the aforementioned soap tastes like. You’ll also find out just how much it burns when it’s forcibly injected into your nether regions. I can understand having to be firm with cranky patients. I cannot understand dumping the soap/water globule into the sink, thrusting the pan at this bedridden lady, and then saying “Well, hallelujah! You can do it then. That means I won’t have to.”

Good nurses are angels here on earth. You, on the other hand, are not fit to be a festering pustule on the most diarrhetic discharge from the worst nurse in the world.

As of this moment, I do not know your name. I can assure you, though, that I will discover it. I will make my displeasure known to you, your boss, the chief nurse, and the administrator of the hospital. I will personally call your boyfriend and tell him your gonorrhea test came back positive. I will notify your bank, in writing, that you are unable to pay your upcoming car payment that is so important to you and ask them to repossess said car. I will track down and bitch-slap your mother for having the gall to bring such a worthless excuse of a human being into this world. I will masquerade as a fashion designer so I can convince you that horizontal stripes are the best way to disguise that fat ass of yours. I will replace your Skin-So-Soft lotion with Clorox. I will cut you off in traffic. I will be a lifeline for you on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and intentionally give you a wrong answer. I will notify the IRS that the “children” you claim as dependents are actually goldfish.

In short, lady, don’t fuck with my mother anymore.

Holy Shit!!! :mad:

I am utterly speachless, except for one more thing…

What a fuckin’ bitch!

I work with an awful lot of nurses. They generally do a good job of covering the angel-devil spectrum but most are on the good side and like their jobs.

That said, nursing is an incredibly demanding job and with decreased staffing it is becoming hard for them to do it properly. OTOH, I have absolutely no trouble believing your nurse may have had nothing better to do. So it would really depend on the circumstances, of which I know zilch.

Nurses have to do a lot of heavy lifting and hate it. Maintenance men and porters tend to be stronger and often help out with jobs like lifting when things are busy. He might have gone in the room to do this and been treated to a diatribe by your mother which should have been directed at the nurse, or he may have been there just to fix a light bulb and had nothing to do with the nurse. Who knows?

You can’t expect the sam equality of nursing on the floor as in an ICU. OTOH, a 45 minute wait is very unreasonable if your mother isn’t the sort of person who buzzes the nurses every 5 minutes for trivial reasons. TB and chest tubes do need to be closely monitored. The soap thing also sounds suspicious and I sincerely hope it was accidental. Unfortunately, years of listening to patients’ complaints, no offense, shows me that they are often reasonable and substantial, and often not. I do hope you feel better after complaining, though. Is it always the same nurse looking after your mother? With luck, they’ll be on some sort of rotating thing and you won’t have to deal again with that particular “biatch”.

See if the local news has a “Troubleshooter”-type show. They love shit like this…

Excellent rant…perfect ten.

Bad hospital experience…

I was admitted for double lung pneumonia and the er nurse had placed an iv in my hand incorrectly. It was pressing on a nerve and w/in an hour my hand was numb. I called the nurse on the floor to let her know…1/2 hr later comes stomping in-pulls out the iv like she’s gutting a fish and tries to put another in. My veins collapse easily so hitting one just right is difficult. So this Nazi in white keeps jabbing at me like Norman Bates-looks at me and says " Maybe if you’d fucking relax I could do this."

She never saw my fiancee in the corner
or the inside of that hospital again :slight_smile:

I am an RN. My experience for last 10 years has been on a med surg floor and for the last year in a critical care unit. I have no doubt that you are telling the truth.

I personally have had shifts where I knew that I was not paying enough attention to patients who needed my help but I was so busy taking care of the patients who were even more worse off than your mother that I had to make a decison on who needed my help ** more ** at that particular time.

The bottom line now is money. It comes down to the insurance companies telling the health care providers what they will pay for and what they won’t. Payment is based on diagnosis and not on each individual case.

Thanks for the replies, folks. I have a bit more information now, and I feel both better and worse.

It was not a 45-minute wait my mother suffered – it was a 2 1/2 hour wait. She pushed the nurse-call button at 10:10; a nurse actually showed up at 12:35, only to stand there and discuss her car payment. I cannot for the life of me fathom why a surgical patient who has been diagnosed with TB would be forced to wait that long to get a nurse to respond.

I’ve got no problem with sending in the maintenance guy to fix the bulb for the nurse-call light over the door. I do have a problem, though, when the nurses know that the patient has been calling for two hours and the first person she sees is a maintenance guy.

On the other hand, I have called a patient representative there at the hospital that I knew from high school. She was shocked and appalled, and agreed to talk with the chief nurse, the doctors treating my mother, and the hospital administration. I have written a letter to the administrator, voicing my displeasure. My father is planning to camp out in Mom’s room later today, and woe to any nurse who doesn’t respond in a timely manner or at least act civilly to my mother. My wife is in Mom’s room now, and she’s even more intimidating than Dad when she’s angry (at least she is to me).

Mom has had three surgeries at different points in her life at this hospital. Her primary physician has his office in the professional building connected to the hospital. In the past, she’s been relatively pleased with the level of care she’s been given there. In one eight-hour period, the day shift of nurses on her floor has managed to completely destroy whatever confidence she had in that facility.

Man, that sucks, Sauron!:eek:

Get a legal pad, several in fact, and document everthing. Make it a point to inform the nurses-from-hell of this. Maybe follow them around with it to see if their overworked and understaffed or just lazy. Tell them, and the admin’s, that this info will be for the giant lawsuit you intend to file if her level of care does’t improve drastically and immediately.

Hey, the sqeaky wheel gets the grease, right?

That stuff makes my blood boil. For what it’s worth, I had nothing but good luck with my nurses following spinal surgery. They were truely angels of mercy.

However…when my husband got hit by a truck on his motorcycle, I had a few run ins. First, he was shocky and shivering cold in the ER. They had done some preliminary tests, and were waiting for the Doc to look at him (he was not critical). I went out and asked a nurse for a blanket (they had cut off his clothes, and all he had was a thin blanket over him- he was shaking so hard his teeth were chattering). She said she’d be right there. 20 minutes later, he’s still shivering, and she’s still not moving. Now, I’m not saying she was a bitch for not jumping right up, but this poor guy is just SHAKING he’s so cold. So I use the “can I help you” method. I start digging through cabinets looking for a blanket. Sure enough, 10 seconds later…“Can I help you?” It’s a different nurse, asking if I need help. Yep, looking for a blanket for my husband. She gets me two, and I return happy.

The worst part? I went home to get him some clothes to change put on (he was not spending the night). I returned, (about20 minutes later) and he was no longer in his room (in the ER). I ask his BITCH of a nurse where he is, and she says that she doesn’t know (very indifferently- like “how should I know?”), and that I have to stand in line with all the sick people checking in with the Triage nurse and ask. I am dumbfounded, but in my confused and shocked state, I get in the line. A minute later, I look through the windows of two sets of double doors, and I see my husbands boss! So I go to get him, to let him know that I’m finding out where they moved him to, and he says “He’s in getting a CAT scan. Right in there” (pointing to an adjacent room).

This man is not even related to my husband. My blood is boiling. “Who told you that?”, I ask. “Her”, he says and points to the bitch. “When?”, I ask. “About 5 minutes ago”, he replies.

I walked out to her, looked her straight in the face, and said “I hope you’ve enjoyed your job. I’m going to have it first thing tomorrow, you stupid, stupid woman. How dare you treat a family member like that? My husband was hit my a goddamned truck, and you won’t tell his WIFE where he is, but you’ll tell his BOSS?” Bottom line, she just didn’t feel like telling me.

At that point, I was so angry I was shaking all over, and my husbands boss took me away from her. I did indeed contact all the pertinent people in the hospital administration about it, (I used to work there), but I don’t know what happened to her. I hope she at least got reprimanded.

I don’t care how stressful a job is, people are due common courtesy and respect. I am actually angry at the way the OP’s mother was treated, and I hope the people responsible are fired. I felt like crying when I read about her in tears. Sauron, I respect your ability to not hurt these idiots. That could not have been easy.


Nursing is my college major. I’m a freshman now, so I haven’t really started the appropriate classes yet.

But if I ever degenerate into one of the cheeseballs like the nurses mentioned in this thread–I want somebody to give me a good, swift kick in the ass.


Great start, Sauron. Now get some names, and carry through on seeing that the administration of this hospital hears it. And for God’s sake, make sure that you or your Dad or another friend or family member is in there with her as much as possible.

Any time someone you love is in the hospital, BE THERE. The hospital should be the safest place for someone who is ill, but it is not. They need an intelligent, persistent person who is willing to be a bitch (or an SOB, as the case may be) to be their advocate and see that they get the care they are paying for and deserve.

On the day that I gave birth to my oldest son 8 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in a different hospital 3 hours away from me. They scheduled her for surgery the following week. The oncology floor was very crowded, so she was placed on the urology floor the week before her surgery. She received excellent care from the nurses on the urology floor. They treated her well, and did their best to calm her fears while giving her straight answers to her questions.

Following her surgery, she was placed on the oncology floor where she was murdered by the carelessness and laziness of the nursing staff there. After surgery, there is a concern that the patient may develop blood clots in the legs due to inactivity. They have machines with cuffs (similar to the blood pressure cuffs) which periodically inflate and deflate around the legs to help prevent the formation of blood clots. One of my siblings or my Dad was with Mom almost around the clock. At the beginning of one shift, they observed this machine giving an alarm. When the alarm went off, the lazy-ass bitch nurse came in and fiddled with it, and then left the room. My sister assumed that the machine had been fixed, and would continue to operate properly, since it still appeared to be on and was still attached to her.

The following day, when the only decent caring nurse my family had met on the oncology floor showed up, she went through the roof and asked who had turned the machine off. She tried to restart it, but got the same alarm conditions. Since she couldn’t get it to work, she went down the hall and got a new machine and hooked her back up.

Congratulations, you lazy ass bitch. You were too fucking lazy to go down the hall and get a machine that worked. That would have been too damned difficult, wouldn’t it? Instead, you left my Mom hooked up to a machine that you knew would not work because you had shut it off. Who gives a damn if she gets blood clots, right? How about her husband? How about her four children and their spouses? How about her four granddaughters, and the grandson she never got to meet because he was only 16 days old when she died of a pulmonary embolism?

The uncaring oncology floor nurses had an additional opportunity to abuse my mother while she was still there. They started her on chemotherapy several days after she was out of surgery. Since she had already been in the hospital for well over a week at this time, my siblings were having trouble being there all the time — there was only so much time they could take off of work. They asked a nurse if someone needed to be there with Mom when they started the chemo. The nurse said it really wasn’t a big deal; they could just come see her when they got off work. Well, when my Dad showed up that afternoon, he found her wandering up and down the hall. She had ripped out her IV and was wandering the hall in a hallucinatory state. She said later that she thought someone was throwing a party for her; she saw balloons, and wanted to join the party. THEY FUCKING ASKED YOU if someone should be there with her. They would have been there with her if you had given any indication that there would be strange side effects. Why the hell couldn’t you give the correct information when you were ASKED?

I walk sometimes with a nurse who works at a very famous hospital in my area (it regularly makes the top 10 list for hospitals in several specialty areas.) She clued me in on the conditions she works under. Her floor is chronically short-staffed. They frequently bring in temp nurses who are not trained in the specialty area she works in. She has followed behind them and seen major mistakes they have made. She feels that generally they are not made from genuine carelessness or malice; instead, it’s because they DON’T FUCKING KNOW, and since the floor is already short-staffed to begin with, they don’t have the luxury of time to ask someone who does.

It gave me a different perspective on my Mom. I now feel that it is possible that she was murdered out of ignorance or incompetence rather than malice or indifference. It’s slightly better than thinking that she died because someone just flat out didn’t give a damn. It’s a small consolation, though, when I have lost a terrific Mom, and my sons never got to meet one hell of a Grandma.

So, let the hospital know that you are outraged. If the problem is that the floor is genuinely understaffed, make that point to the hospital administrators. Point out that nursing care is a large part of what you are paying such a substantial sum for, and that you consider it theft for them to cut corners by not staffing the floors adequately to allow patients the care they are paying for. Point out that the understaffing problem is only exacerbated by uncaring, ineffectual staff like Nurse Car Payment. Trite but true: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

By the way, best wishes for your Mom. I’m glad to hear it was not cancer.


I can bring myself to tears of gratitude describing for you the absolute wonderful care I received at the hands of the Ob-gyn nurses when Cranky Jr was born. Absolutely outstanding.

Until my last afternoon. We finally decided I could go home. I was hormonal, hurting from my incision, worried about Cranky Junior, having to get acquainted with a breast pump, shitloads of lochia, and to top it off, a goddamned catheter bag because I had some minor bladder damage during the c-section. My urologist told me that someone would show me how to attach a portable cath bag, and how to change it, empty it, etc. So we ring for a nurse. By dumb fucking luck, I get two of the most clueless idiots I have ever had the misfortune to run across. They had never even SEEN a portable catheter bag before. They were trying to attach it backwards and put on the straps wrong, etc. I was getting very frustrated and humiliated. Did I mention how hormonal I was? I kept saying “You know, I think I can see from the diagram how this works. I’m fine. It’s okay. Go ahead and head on now, I’ll deal with it.” But the two old biddies wouldn’t. They kept hemming and hawing and tinkering and ARGH! I would have given them $5000 to just LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE but they wouldn’t give in and admit defeat. Did I mention my hormones?

So in sheer frustration, I started to cry. Then they were falling all over themselves to comfort me. What’s wrong, what’s wrong? I just shook my head, wanted them to leave me be. But then they started the guessing game. “Do you hurt somewhere? Are you upset about the baby?” and then this gem: “Did your husband say something that upset you? What did he do? What did he say? It’s okay, you can tell ME. Do you want us to ask him to leave?” All I want is for them to get the hell away from me, but now they want a 29-page affadavit that my husband is not, in fact, some asshole who made me bawl. AAARGH!!!

Wow, you should see how clenched my jaw is as I type this. Funny thing was, two months later we’re visiting a friend who just had a baby, and one of those same clueless nurses is helping her. But this time, it’s just with looking after the baby, and she was perfect with that, not at all clueless.

I can forgive them not being up on portable urology equipment. But the impromptu marriage counseling was TOTALLY uncalled for. And given that my hormones were raging, I was completely unable to deal with it effectively.

Lib, That is absolutely awful, and my heart is breaking for the pain your family had to go through. Just awful. And I agree 100% with this:

Anyone who has not had the misfortune of having a loved one in the hospital needs to remember this. (The rest of us already know.) It shouldn’t be an “us vs them” situation, but unfortunately, that’s how it turns out sometimes. When your loved one can’t help themselves, you MUST be there as much as possible to see what is going on.


I’ve learned that being aware of the possibility means that you’re 80% certain to be able to avoid it. Much hugs on becoming a nurse!

(Some computer in the States still thinks I wanted to become a nurse. I wanted to become an engineer at the time, but the computer misread the blobby dots on my PSAT’s.)

I am saddened, but not shocked by your experience. Your mother deserves better - I hope your letters and phone calls do the trick. And I hope your mum heals quickly!

When my mother was recuperating from her brain aneurysm surgery, we encountered the nurse from hell - we called her Nurse Nora and she worked in the Neurology ICU at The University of Illinois - Chicago Hospital. Avoid her if you can, although I don’t remember her real name (it wasn’t Nora).

I didn’t know exactly what she did but my mother, who was on a resperator and couldn’t speak, wrote notes like, “get her away”, “bad nurse”, “stay here” whenever she was around. When Nurse Nora would come into the room, my mother would get a wild horse look in her eyes and plead with one of us to stay, no matter how personal the procedure was. We made sure one of us (me, sister, brother, g-mother) was always with my mother when Nurse Nora was around.

Later, when mom could speak again, we found out that Nurse Nora was very cruel when the family wasn’t present. She would give my mother injections in her stomach (for no reason) and wipe Mom’s butt until she was raw and bleeding (mom had no choice but to use a bedpan). There were other things but I get upset when I think that they happened to my mother.

We were so grateful my mother survived we never took any actions against Nurse Nora (and because the other nurses were the coolest). For the record, I hope Nurse Nora ends up in a Turkish prison someday.