I responded to a mail list discussion around 'problem patients' which began with the following main points
a relatively new nurse
surprise that a significant minority of (my) patients are pathological wimps;
even prior to seeing them they can often easily be spotted by examining their medical records;
for example, I frequently notice that wimps have an obscene (and often downright odd) amount of special meal requests;
current nursing philosophy encourages nurses to be endlessly supportive of wimps. i.e. to follow the often demonstrably wrong idea that "the patient is always right.";
IMO nurses who claim they benefit such patients using the current model of appeasement based care are co-dependent personality types who enjoy feeling needed more than they enjoy actually helping people.
My first response is copied below with some additional points a further post will follow:
Patients are always a challenge in that they come in lots of 'varieties'. This is why we recognise the need for individualised, person-centred care. One variety is physical trauma laden to which the full-complement of the multidisciplinary team must respond. These patients and *their* crises bring out the best in us in terms of the skills and knowledge, team work they force us to exercise.
Among the plethora of other varieties there are those who are viewed as 'problems'. Like the Pepsi ad of decades ago they are variously and pejoratively described as -
If I receive referral information or heads up information on diagnosis of a 'tci' (to come in) that suggests the above is on the way, has arrived or worse "is on your caseload" - what do I do?
Brace myself for impact?
Go off sick (suffering loss of job satisfaction)?
Become purely task or disease focussed, give up on effecting +ve change and improved outcome?
Share collective anecdotes in the office - staff changing as a way to cope, de-stress, inject some humour?
OR do I -
Avoid labelling them, or use these labels in a re-constructive way?
Ask why are they 'who' they are?
Gaze into their 'life history' and help them learn from it?
Refuse to make gross assumptions, even based on previous experience with client - patient?
Look at the individual wholistically - socially, educationally, behaviourally?
Believe you can still make a difference (be the fly-half you can be and play ball)?
Side step being tripped by foibles, behaviours and blatant displays of -ve obstructive ...... attitude that offend 'me'?
Enter their space and do my utmost to find room for manoeuvre (this is the hardest test)?
Speak to my manager(s) very tersely about protecting 'me' as a scarce resource and shout "OK where the hell is the gate keeper!"
Or, as a nurse do you boldly go and seek out new strengths and new opportunities in the same way that Kirk, McCoy, Spock et al. (2264) go and seek New Life, NewCivilizations...
You may have an impossible lock to pick (in its most severe form this has become known as 'personality disorder'), but the nursing challenge is there in all its personal and professional glory. Address this personal - under-the-skin - slant - seek supervision. Be aware of the pit that some people fall into. The trap for some people with life chances they may have completely
missed, never had, were stolen, denied, took for granted, spurned, totally - wasted.
Around the pit is the zone of judgement, but beware it is a singularity (no perspective) and very slippery.
Reference Kirk, McCoy, Spock et al. (2264) The Caring Imperative, To Boldly Go..., Four Quadrant Galactic Care Journal, Integrated Galactic Care Publishing Inc. itess-cube: 1701u-care4mesafelyandnicely