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10 best responses to annoying patients

Here is a fun list of my favorite nursing-related comments and the tongue-in-cheek comebacks I have managed to bite back in order to remain professional. Yes, some things are better left unsaid:

 

 

My top 10 responses to annoying patients

10. “Those scrubs make you look fat.”

Comeback: “You’re just jealous that I get to work in something akin to my pajamas!”

9. “All nurses are overpaid, fat and lazy.” (Yes, had a patient say this to me once. Then she gave me a “thank-you” gift.)

Comeback: “This fat, overpaid, lazy nurse just saved you and your baby’s life.”

8. “The floor is so quiet and peaceful!” (Especially irritating when yelled at 3AM by a newly admitted patient to a full floor.)

Comeback: “I have Micropore tape and I’m not afraid to use it!”

7. Patient states, “The nurses just hang out at the nurses station and play on their computers.”

Comeback: “If 14 hours of continuous charting, about you, on the computer amounts to play, I’d like to know what you think work is?”

6. “It must be so cool to work in an environment like  _____.” (Insert TV shows like House, ER, Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, etc.)

Comeback: “No, what would be really cool is if there was a TV show that showed the reality of nursing minus the soap opera–’cuz it ain’t sexy.”

5. “The doctors are so cute! Is it true they only date nurses?”

Comeback: “The doctors don’t look so cute at 2AM when they are disheveled, covered in blood and screaming at the nurses. Just sayin’.”

4. After getting a patient something to drink or eat; “Wow, you are just like a waitress.” Or even better, “This place is just like a hotel!”

Comeback: “A waitress in a hotel wouldn’t put up with your crap. Literally.”

3. “It must be so nice only working three days a week.”

Comeback: “It must be so nice not to be burned out due to sleep deprivation and stress.”

2. “#$@% ^&^ %**&^!!!!!” (insert expletives, possibly in combination with rude hand gestures)

Comeback: “#$@% ^&^ %**&^!!!!!” (insert expletives, possibly in combination with rude hand gestures)

1. And lastly, the ultimate “compliment”:”You are so good, you should have become a doctor!”

Comeback: “Honey, you couldn’t pay me to become a doctor!”

Runner up: “We all ordered out but forgot to ask you because you looked so busy!”

This one never warrants a comeback–just payback for next time! :D

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.
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33 Responses to 10 best responses to annoying patients

  1. This is Definately a front-runner for being funny, but Oh, So True!! Makes me feel better, it’s not just me;) I’ve Definately replied to patients, more than once, the Last statement. Another good one– you have to do something that hurts a bit (like an IM- big whoop) & they say ouch, etc; I say”I’m sorry” & the reply?”yeah, you really look sorry” What? Really? Just sayin’….

  2. RunsWithScissors

    Would love to say some of these things, but in the days of sucking it up in the name of “customer service”, we just can’t. The “customer” is always right, don’t ya know?! Many of these would get one fired where I work.

  3. Kat

    Regarding #1: I have said that to a patient! LOL I mean it too! :-)

  4. Jeanne Vacca

    I had an MD snap at me when I called him about a change in his patient’s condition,necessitating a move to the ICU.He said “You’re not sorry about calling me!”And I,after 4 12 hour nights actually snapped back,”No it’s the highlight of my s#$%ty night just to wake you up to tell you about your patient who just had a near-death experience .YOU need to come in NOW!!!” He came in and apologized to me for being such an a-hole.The other nurses who worked with me couldn’t believe that this arrogant jerk apologized to me.He was much easier to work with after that.

  5. Jackie

    If the patient or family member states ” I hate hospitals” my standard comeback is ” I hate hospitals too, Im only here cause they pay me”

  6. NurseNanny

    I am a pateint and not a nurse, but I loved all of the nurses who took care of me during a recent 27 day hospitalization. Some people have no class or conscience; I can’t believe any nurse has to endure such rudeness!!!

  7. NurseNanny

    I am a patient and not a nurse, but I have a lot of respect and adoration for all of the nurses who took care of me during a recent 27 day hospitalization. Some people have no class or conscience; I can’t believe that nurses have to endure such rudeness!!! For future reference,if I hear another patient talk to a nurse like that I would say the snarky remarks you can’t as a professional. My mother’s husband is famous for being rude to the nurses and I always remind him that it’s not their fault you’re stuck in the hospital and being nice and compliant will get you further than being miserable. He doesn’t seem to understand that the nurses work hard, long hours and you should help make that a better experience for them.

  8. zornowk

    RE #9- I DID say that to my husband, after our daughter spent 28 days in the NICU, open heart surgery at 4 months, and multiple health complications. He said that all I did at work (in the NICU) was to feed babies and chart. My reply, “those same nurses who feed babies and chart saved YOUR daughter’s life on more then one occassion!”

  9. Darlene RN

    I LOVE IT WHEN A PATIENT ASK ME AM I A LVN; THEN ASK SURPRISED WHEN I SAY -NO, I’m A RN; OR SAY CAN YOU TELL MY NURSE TO COME HERE -DUH, I’m YOUR NURSE; OR TREAT ME LIKE I’m THEIR PRIVATE MAID. PEOPLE CAN BE SO RUDE, BUT NURSING MUST GO ON !!!
    #LOVECARINGFORPEOPLE#

    • martatvbm@hotmail.com RN

      Been there many times over. Some patients will feel uncomfortable with having me as their RN b/c I have an accent.

  10. Darlene RN

    I LOVE IT WHEN A PATIENT ASK ME AM I A LVN; THEN ASK SURPRISED WHEN I SAY -NO, I’m A RN; OR SAY CAN YOU TELL MY NURSE TO COME HERE -DUH, I’m YOUR NURSE; OR TREAT ME LIKE I’m THEIR PRIVATE MAID. PEOPLE CAN BE SO RUDE, BUT NURSING MUST GO ON !!!
    LOVECARINGFORPEOPLE

    • august

      I face that all the time. When the LVN/LPN tell a patient that I will get the rn to check, and they see me, the patient states “I thought you were going to get the RN, why is she coming”, just because I have a different kind of name, and I have an accent! Then they get supprised by the different level of knowledge, information,teaching, and care.

  11. Darlene RN

    I LOVE THE PATIENTS THAT ASK, “ARE YOU AN LVN?” THEN LOOK SURPRISED WHEN I REPLY -NO, I’m AN RN. OR THE PATIENT THAT SAYS, “CAN YOU TELL MY NURSE TO COME HERE -DUH, I AM YOUR NURSE. OR THE PATIENT THAT TRIES TO USE ME AS HIS/HER PERSONAL MAID. PEOPLE CAN BE SO RUDE, BUT NURSING MUST GO ON.
    #LOVECARINGFORPEOPLE#

    • sidhe007

      Darlene, I don’t know what point you’re making about what an RN vs LVN looks like, but I find the statement itself nothing less than insulting.

      • katcastillo

        I’M a LPN and I finD Darlene Rn/Lvn comment
        offensive ,I work at a facility where we take people with no to little income with pysch conditions,Dementia you name it we take it . I work hard I take care of my Residents. I held the hand of some of my residents while they were dying because they didn’t have any family I stayed way past my shift to do this. I HAVE HAD TO MAKE QUICK DECISIONS TO CALL 911 to send out to the hospital I even had to start CPR . . At the end of the day Your initials don’t mean squat ,it’s the care you give.. and . I had a MSN TELL ME THIS .

        • malloryjones26

          Im a lpn and in school now upgrading. I work at a nursing home, sounds about like yours.. the lpns do all the work and rns just sit behind the desk and tell you what to do. The rns I work with probably couldn’t stick a foley in someone if their life depended on it ! The letters behind a persons name mean NOTHING to me. My residents call me dr.mallory because I always take such good care of them. And no matter how messed up my facility is I do it for them and go home at the end of the day knowing I did my best !

  12. jblank2@yahoo.com

    Everyday we struggle to see the humor in our profession. We, as Nurses have warped sense of humors that no one else can understand. We have to learn to handle all situations with grace and humility.

    We at http://www.NursEtAl.com are happy to partner with Scrubs to provide insights to all aspects of the Nursing profession. Please visit our Nursing blog at http://www.NursEtAl.com to discuss all things Nursing. Thank you Scrubs

  13. desertrn

    You can’t take it to heart when patients say offending things, or it would break us. I just laugh when asked, “can I just get my dilaudid shot now so I can go home since it is too busy here.” Then I inform them, this isn’t Burger King where u can order what you want & get it your way. It will be quite a wait as you are in no distress and we are busy saving lives, then a doctor will examine you & order only what is needed.
    And no, you cannot have a sandwich, chips & soda for you and each family member while you wait (with supposed 10/10 abdominal pain).
    Last night, the patient who had been up smoking meth for 72 hours asked, “why do I have a belly ache” and do you think “vitamin C I took will make it better.” My response, “not using meth will make it better.

  14. saturn567

    love it

  15. cpnay

    Patient in rehab/psych hospital states: “I don’t think i want to take the seroquel.” I read the side effects, and it seems like it could be dangerous.” My response “I would recommend that you take the seroquel as ordered.” “Those side efects are things that could happen, however, many patients respond well to this medication.” ” Trust me, it is much safer than crack!”. I always get them on this one,haha.

  16. breehat

    I don’t think these are good comebacks. I don’t want to be a doormat but these comebacks are not “me”—especially no. 10.

  17. RNinTN

    My favorite response to rudeness is to say, in my friendliest tone, “I’m sorry — could you repeat that?” as if I simply hadn’t heard their remark. Very often, they’ll be too embarrassed to repeat what they just said. Sometimes it’s necessary to have them repeat it more than once though. “I’m sorry; I’m just not understanding you. Would you remind repeating that?.”

    • Scrubs Staff Scrubs Blogger

      Such a great response, RNinTN–thanks so much for sharing it!

  18. LoveRN

    A male patient angry about the placement of an NG tube once informed me, “I’ve never hit a nurse before.” I told him, “That’s okay, I’ve never hit a patient YET either.”

    • kneechorton

      I luv this! A few months ago during my clinical rotation on an acute floor we had an elderly patient who was very feisty, she tried bitting me but missed. She had the nerve to tell me “next time I won’t miss”I thought to myself how will I explain the both of us having bite marks

  19. traumamama

    When an ER PT curses me saying “you are my response is usually “yes and I’m the best < insert vulgarity" that has ever taken care of you before, so don't you forget it" this usually stuns them into momentary silence.

  20. Jennmike211

    I love # 7… But may I add.. “You didn’t see me 10 min ago when I was trying to help a drunk/high on crack or the delusional patient that hit/ attacked me and security and PD had to pull them off!!! Eye glasses now broken and I have 10 more hours of this!!

  21. august

    I was told, I did not look like a nurse because my scrub had design!

  22. rhondaakins

    I dont EVER apologize to a doctor for calling him/her. To me thats like apologizing for trying to do my job and maybe save a patients life. Is the wrong?

  23. darksideANP

    Patient: “Those scrubs make you look fat”
    Me: “well, guess what that rectal tube makes YOU look like?!”