Nurses' attitude towards ‘difficult’ and ‘good’ patients in eight public hospitals


Doris D. Khalil, Division of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Groote Schuur Hospital, Old Main Building—F56, Observatory 7925, Cape Town, South Africa. Email:


The paper is part of a large-scale study exploring violence in nursing conducted between 2005 and 2006. There were various objectives for each aspect of the study. Qualitative descriptive survey was selected. The population were all nurses licensed with the South African Nursing Council. Non-probability sampling technique was utilized to distribute confidential questionnaires to nurses employed in the eight public hospitals during 2006. Good patients were rewarded with tender loving care although difficult patients were ignored or needed interventions deliberately delayed. Because of the severe shortage of qualified staff, nurses had to rationale care in order to meet needs of all their patients. However, nurses found to violate health-care consumers were counselled, disciplined and/or dismissed.