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5 Things Patients Do That Annoy Nurses

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By Nurseslabs Contributor

It’s not all saving lives and deep patient-nurse connections in the nursing world. Every nurse has patients they adore, patients they cry over, and patients that truly appreciate their hard work. But, on the same note, every nurse has a patient who they despise, a patient who talks down to them, and a patient who makes their day feel longer than it already is.

Some of these patients are outright disrespectful and some patients don’t realize that they are making life more difficult for their healthcare providers, regardless, some patients just annoy the hell out of us.

1. Abusing the call button

I just asked you if you needed anything, you said, “no,” so I left your room and finally got to sit down when BAM, there’s your call light. Ugh. That damn call light is all a part of the job; however, the call light is never more annoying than it is at this moment. If you need something, great, I’ll do it for you, but don’t do this to me. Tell me when I’m in your room or when I’ve asked you, not when I finally get to sit for the first time in eight hours. Other call light offenses include pushing it for things that you can obviously do yourself, pushing it too many times, and getting angry for having to wait an extra five minutes for me to get to you when you’ve already pushed it six times and you’ve only wanted a drink of water or another pillow. Please be patient unless it’s an emergency, all of my other patients love the call light as well!

The best thing that a patient can be for a nurse is to be patient and to be understanding. Nursing is somewhat of a thankless job and nurses remember the patients that understand that and give them a break every now and again. Nurses are now required to be higher educated which is leading to increased salaries, which is good, but another reason for the salary increase is the growing need for more nurses to enter the field. With the aging workforce beginning to retire, there aren’t enough nurses to fill the gap which means nurses are overworked, working even longer hours, and handling more patients than before.

2. Crying to the doctor

Well, good news! You told me that your pain was well controlled throughout the night! This is great to hear, but NOPE not once the doctor walks through the door. Now it’s time to talk about all the pain you’ve been going through and how you were writhing in agony all night… Whatever your reason is for having two different stories about your pain, it isn’t doing you or your healthcare providers any favors by lying about your symptoms.


If you are in pain, tell your nurse and they will do whatever they can to make your pain manageable. If you are not in pain, tell your nurse so that they know if your treatment is working or if your pain meds need to be changed.

Your nurse is highly educated and fought hard to get through the rigors of nursing school. They are on the front lines of healthcare and know how to do their jobs. Griping to your doctor about things that your nurse is responsible for is only making life harder for the nurses who are responsible for keeping you healthy. As a patient you need to trust and respect the nurse’s opinion and not cry to the doctor instead your nurse when things aren’t going well. It is your doctor’s job to diagnose and recommend treatment, but it’s your nurse’s job to follow through with that treatment. If things like pain management aren’t going well, be honest with both parties.

3. Family Intervention

Nurse: “What is your pain level?”
You: “……”
Wife: “It’s a six.”
Nurse: “….”

Families or significant others (SO) are great and necessary for many patients who are going through a hard time. The truth is that 65.7 million family members served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative. You need them for comfort and support during the stressful time that some hospital visits can be. However, some family members tend to overstep their boundaries. Parents and spouses tend to be the biggest culprits with jumping in where they aren’t needed. It’s almost always from a good place, but this is a sore spot for many nurses. Chances are that the patient knows a little more about their own bowel movements than anyone else in their life, so the information is almost always more accurate and helpful if it’s coming from the patient and not the overbearing family member.

So for many relatives it’s hard not to offer input in relation to their relative’s health when a nurse asks for it. And, for many aging or disabled patients, it is a great help to have your input. However, if the patient is mentally and physically able to answer the nurse’s questions, it’s best to let them do it in order for the nurse to get the most accurate information about the patient.

4. Self-diagnosing

Any sentence that starts with, “Well I Googled it…,” or, “WebMD says…” is probably wrong, and also annoying. Trust that my schooling and real life work experience knows more than what the internet is telling you. Chances are that you and the internet working together to diagnose your issue is probably wrong and more than likely scaring you into the worst-case scenario. Statistically speaking, the most probable diagnosis is the correct one and you don’t actually have the super rare condition that “fits your symptoms perfectly.”

The internet is an amazing place with an overwhelming amount of knowledge. It’s great that patients have this source when they are diagnosed and can do research and feel better about how much they know about it. However, if patients come in with a preconceived notion on what their symptoms mean, then it can cloud their ability to convey useful information to the medical professionals who need to give them an educated diagnosis. So next time you go to the doctor, it’s fine to do your research beforehand but don’t let an internet diagnosis skew the information you give your healthcare provider. Chances are your fatigue doesn’t mean you have lupus so keep an open mind.

5. Being an ingrate

You belittle me, throw things at me, ignore safety precautions, treat the hospital like your hotel, and are generally just an awful person. I don’t know what went wrong at some point in your life to make you act like this towards anyone in your life, let alone a complete stranger, but I pity you. Mostly I can’t stand you, but I also pity you. I went through years of schooling, work for 12 hours straight, spend time away from my family, and haven’t been able to sit down or eat since I started my shift, and you are the LAST thing I need right now. I will do my job and make sure you are healthy, but mostly just to you discharged from the hospital and out of my life forever.

Luckily, more often than not patients really try to be friendly and understanding, even if they are unknowingly being a little annoying. But good intentions go a long way when the ones with ill intentions try to ruin your day. Granted, it’s easy to find little annoyances when dealing with the stresses of such a demanding job, but some patients are just taxing individuals. This is why one pleasant patient that says thank you, asks about our day, or makes us laugh is such a gift. Next time you find yourself interacting with a nurse, remember to be courteous and thankful and try not to be one of the patients they gossip about at the nursing station.

Author bio photoAuthor bio: Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She enjoys listening to talk radio, drinking cold coffee, and throwing the occasional Frisbee for her dog, Titan. Follow her on Twitter!

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