Have you ever been at the mercy of another human being? How about a nurse from hell in an emergency unit? Now before I go there, I have to admit that everyone except this one person was very professional in their work. So, if you work in the health care field, let’s hope you care at least a little about what you do. I recently had a medical issue flare up on one of my flights back to Edmonton. All I can say is thank goodness my former family physician was on the plane; he certainly did help get me home. But, if you get sick on a plane, be prepared: They haul you off in an ambulance to make sure nothing runs amok. A fanfare I would have rather done without. To keep a long story short, after three days of two medical institutions not being able to contain my pain, I went back to the U of A hospital as instructed. Day 4 of tests and more pain killers to try and figure out what was slowing down this weary traveller. Nurse J came on shift at 8 that morning and, even through my morphine haze, it was easy to tell that she was disengaged from her job. She wasn’t interested in getting patient instructions from the nurse she was replacing. I couldn’t have imagined a more disengaged individual working in an emergency unit. She spent most of the morning having personal conversations with the other nurses on the floor. We (all the patients and staff) found out that she wanted to move back East, didn’t really like living in Edmonton that much—these chats were clearly more important to her than dealing with the few patients she had been assigned to. At one point, my IV came out and I started bleeding. I said “excuse me” and Nurse J ignored me, I said it again and she yelled at me… that is…until she saw the blood spilling from my arm. Every time someone asked something of her, it seemed that “we” were interrupting her socializing.
In the few hours I was there, she constantly yelled at patients, pointed her clipboard two
inches in front of peoples’ faces, administered medication (some of which leaked out on the floor), and generally terrorized patients. This was a bully on steroids who was wreaking havoc on a group of vulnerable people. I asked to see someone senior to her, to which she replied there was no one. Don’t you find that interesting? The most “senior” person in an emergency unit was Nurse J and her bad attitude. Heaven forbid all the patients in there at that time. At one point, she was loudly discussing the results of my CT scan with other nurses… telling them I was a waste of hospital space and that there was nothing wrong with me. At the time, I was actually on the phone with a colleague who had spoken to a surgeon who said there was a complex mass discovered in that scan that would require attention. I called Nurse J over and told her that a surgeon had quite the different diagnosis from hers and that perhaps she should consult with him. She closed the curtain to my cubicle and proceeded to call me the worst expletive at the top of her lungs. Suffice to say, Nurse J’s diagnosis of “it’s nothing” and that I was wasting hospital space, turns out to be a major tumour that needs surgery to be removed. The moral of the story: If you work in the healthcare field and you don’t really care about your work—get out of the field.
Nejolla Korris is an international expert in area of interviewing skills and linguistic lie detection. She is a keen observer and fan of the human condition. Dubbed the “Human Lie Detector” by some clients, she is a popular speaker on lie detection, fraud prevention and investigation, workplace fraud, and organizational justice. Nejolla recently launched a new speaker’s series on the differing communication styles between men and women.