Sunday, December 03, 2006


Working in acute care I run into all different types of families. I like dealing with families and I especially like doing patient/family education. Observing different family dynamics and seeing how different patients and families relate to each other fascinates me. Some of the family types I've seen in the past couple weeks:

  • The Hoverers -- Most have a different definition of "personal space" than I do. They stand at my elbow while I'm evaluating a patient, forcing me to remember not to turn around suddenly or else they'll be wearing applesauce. They jump in to answer questions directed at the patient, which often yields helpful information, but then the patient usually clams up, eliminating the first-hand info. There are two subtypes of Hoverers: Concerned Hoverers (who only want the best for the patient and are usually just overwhelmed by the hospital setting) and Paranoid Hoverers (who think that hospital staff need to be kept in check before they adversely affect the patient through laziness, incompetence, not caring, or all three).
  • The Notetakers -- Sit in the corner and scribble furiously as soon as staff walks in the room. These are the ones who ask to see your name badge and double-check the spelling of your name and your exact title. They often write down everything you say verbatim. Two subtypes: Perfectionist Notetakers (admittedly rare, these are the ones who want all the staff's names so they can send thank-you notes to each department head, and want all the patient's diagnoses with the correct spellings so they can look them up and addd them to the typewritten list of medical history and current medications the patient keeps on his/her person at all times) and Legal-Minded Notetakers (waiting for mistakes and want the evidence to back them up. If you listen closely, you can hear the faint ka-ching of a cash register after every question). Perfectionist Notetakers mean well and try not to be annoying. Legal-Minded Notetakers usually belong to families of Paranoid Hoverers.
  • The Name-Droppers -- Often associated with Paranoid Hoverers, these are the ones who make it a point to inform you (usually within 30 seconds of entering the room) of their exact relationship to the president of the hospital. Or a hospital board member. Or a local politician. Or some random celebrity. The purpose, of course, is to demand special treatment and to give vague hints of dire consequences if that special treatment isn't immediately forthcoming. Funny thing is, the couple of times that I've had actual VIP's, they were the most unassuming, least demanding patients I'd seen in a long time. Go figure.
  • The Musketeers -- Close-knit extended families who are easily recognized by the presence of at least five family members in the patient's room from dawn until well after visiting hours. Usually very concerned for the patient's welfare, but often so involved in ever-running conversations that they are oblivious to staff attempts to care for the patient. These are the ones you try to send to the lounge/waiting room area, or else you'll be tripping over them and having to constantly interrupt their conversations with the patient so you can finish your eval.
  • The Researchers -- Reveal themselves by the phrase "I looked it up on the internet..." These ones are usually fun because they generally ask good questions and are interested in more detailed information about the patient's diagnoses than just prognosis and recommendations. There is a small subset who question everything you do because "the internet said xyz" (these are the ones who don't get the concept of "reliable" vs. "not-so-reliable" sources of info), but for the most part Researchers respond well to patient/family education.


Blogger Sarah said...

This is a great list. What do you call the ones that look you up and leave 2 voice mails a day?

7:02 AM  
Blogger Speechy said...

Hoverers on hold? :)

7:17 PM  
Blogger Stevie said...

I guess I'm a researcher since I found your blog while researching vitalStim therapy which I was told my 20 month old needs to start! Your list is funny and I'm glad you generally like researchers! I am not a confrontational researcher...I'm just a want to know more researcher!

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah: The Stalkers?

7:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home