How to be assertive with hospital staff – it’s not easy is it?
You may have experienced or are experiencing a situation like this:
A close member of your family has been admitted to hospital with chest pains, you’ve made several visits but haven’t yet managed to speak to anyone who can tell you what exactly is the problem.
On a number of occasions you’ve approached the nursing staff to ask questions about what’s happening. Your questions have been met with an averted gaze, a rustle of paperwork and you’re told that they’re doing the best for your relative. You tried to speak to the consultant, who has always been unavailable; you have been given his number and told when he might be available to speak.
What permission do you need to give yourself to tackle this situation assertively? Well you need to remind yourself that you have the following rights:
- You have a right to get answers
- You have a right to persist
- You have the right to a be treated with respect
- You have the right to be listened to
- You have the right for your needs to be taken seriously
- You have the right to be kept informed
An assertive conversation with hospital staff might go something like this:
1. ‘Good morning, I want to organise a time to speak to my father’s consultant face to face this week. I’ve tried to reach him by phone but he’s always unavailable‘
What’s the best way of going about this?’
Response from Nursing staff ‘Mr Cartwright is very busy, you could try his secretary, here’s the number’
2. ‘Good morning, my father is being cared for on Westcott Ward and his consultant is Mr Cartwright, I’d like to organise a meeting with him to discuss my father’s health‘
Response from secretary ‘Mr Cartwright is very busy, can I give him a message and I’ll get back to you with his response’
3. ‘I appreciate that he’s busy and it’s difficult for him to find the time to speak directly with relatives.
No, this is very important and I’d like to speak with him myself in person.
When would be convenient for him and I’ll make myself available?‘
Response from secretary ‘Well he’s in surgery all day to day and then at a conference on Thurs & Fri, can this wait until next week?’
4.‘I understand his diary is pretty packed.
No, I’m not prepared to wait until next week because the longer the delay the more anxious my mother and my family are becoming and I don’t want this to continue. When could he fit me in today?’
Resistance from secretary ‘Well I can’t make time where there isn’t time’
5. ‘I appreciate it’s difficult for you.
Do you accept that my family have received no confirmed diagnosis and that we’re worried sick?’
Response from secretary ‘Yes of course I do, I’m sure there’s a good reason for the delay, I’ll make contact with him between surgery and I’ll promise to get back to you with a time to meet up by 2pm today’
If this is a situation that resonates with you please leave your comments so that others might benefit.
Remember You have a right to get information and you have a right to behave assertively with hospital staff.