DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please help advise a group of professional hospital nurses on how to respond to the regular insults we often face in our required communications with those "above" us, namely physicians. We are often yelled at, objects are thrown at or around us, and charts are slammed in front of us.
On the phone, we are frequently hung up on. We are insulted personally and professionally with regard to our abilities. This is done in a loud, screaming fashion, sometimes in public, while shaking a finger in our faces. Even more insulting is to not be acknowledged at all or even addressed by our names.
Our efforts to resolve these difficulties with our managers have been unsuccessful, as we are expendable, and the physicians bring patients and money to the hospital. We are sometimes pacified with the explanation that the offending physician has personal problems or that he or she was up all night or, worse yet, that we possess a personal deficiency which our managers didn't notice previously, but which elicits such treatment.
On our best days we get by with no screaming and a mumbled thank you. These occur far less frequently than the former. How is one to deal with such incidents when our patients' lives are at stake and even our very jobs are on the line? The offending parties have never made apologies and acknowledgment of the behavior.
GENTLE READER: Please remind Miss Manners not to check herself into a hospital where any such behavior is practiced. Whatever immediate ailment she might have, she would quickly have to be transferred to the cardiac ward.
It's not just the shock these doctors would be administering to her sense of decency. She would also be doubtful of their medical competence. Doctors need to be able to keep cool in emergencies, and the ones you describe don't seem to be able to control themselves even under their ordinary working conditions.
As nurses, you are undoubtedly familiar with treating hysterics sympathetically, while at the same time keeping them from harming others. As individuals, you should be soothing anyone who behaves like this, suggesting kindly that he take it easy, asking whether you can get him anything, checking that he is taking any medicine he should be having. Acting as a group, you might consider it your duty to warn the board, if the management refuses to listen, that the hospital could be remiss if it ignored the emotional problems of specific doctors that nurses and patients have seen create problems on the job.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please remind your readers that it is a courtesy to identify hostess gifts.
When these arrive attached to guests, the hostess is only able to offer a brief verbal thanks, but sometimes she'd like to write a note, or the like, afterwards. I had an open house and wound up with many lovely gifts the donors of which are probably now gestating letters to you complaining that they weren't acknowledged. They would have been if I'd know to whom to write or phone!
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners would be happy to remind them, but may she also remind you to have a crayon on hand? After all, the guests cannot know what the set-up is to be -- how many guests, whether you will open the presents in front of them -- but you do. On an occasion when you suspect that presents might be brought, she suggests that you have a table where you may park them, and quickly scrawl the name on the package.