Douche-Patient Communication: an Example

On Thursday last week I had a fall akin to this:
lemonsOffice party. What can I say.

Three days later the pain in my ribs was so bad that I couldn’t sleep and I dragged myself to the hospital. I was hoping for an X-ray and lots of pain medication. Not too much to ask, surely?

However, for lack of sleep and after a long day I was pretty cranky and irritable. After waiting over an hour to be seen by a doctor and then twenty minutes to get the chest X-ray, which never happened because there was no staff in radiology, I changed my mind.

I went back to the doctor and said as much, adding that I didn’t really see any point in an X-ray because whether or not it was a fractured rib the only way to heal it is to let it heal itself.

The doctor then asked me whether I was questioning his decision.

This was when it hit me that I was the same hospital where two years ago I had gone in with CLASSIC gastric reflux symptoms. Thedoctor-fluid-on-the-knee doctor I saw prescribed an ECG and then an ointment for back pain, leaving my intestines to digest themselves. I will never forgive that man. Luckily about two weeks later my dentist diagnosed me almost instantly and prescribed some Nexium.  And what is it with the whole lack of female doctors at this joint? All my life, I have only seen one female doctor here and I remember because it was THAT rare. But that’s besides the point.

So the conversation went something like this:

Doctor: Are you questioning my decision to prescribe an X-ray, or just disappointed that it took so long?

Me: I’m questioning your decision.

Doctor: What? Why? What is your profession?

Me: It’s not about profession, I just want to be well informed about the need for any medical procedures I would be subjected to. I am a patient, that’s my right.

Doctor: You should have asked me when you were still in the booth.

Me: That’s bullshit [really cranky at this point] I can ask whenever I please. It’s my right.

Doctor: Are you insulting me?

Me: No, you are insulting me! [1. By prescribing an expensive but useless and potentially risky medical test; 2. By trying to start a pissing contest; 3. By refusing to explain yourself – which usually means there was no smart or valid explanation.]

Doctor: Please go sit over there.

I got the feeling the sooner I sat down the sooner I could get my prescription and leave. So I skulked away as he gossiped about me with the nurses, eventually coming over to me.

Doctor: Are you saying you came all the way here just for painkillers?

Me: Yes [this was a lie. I really did want an X-ray to begin with but the waiting helped me see some sense].

Maybe this man thought I was covering for my wife-beating boyfriend and I was just a wimpy pushover he could talk disrespectfully to. This would explain his apparent disbelief when I was telling him about my fall and all the questions like “did someone push you? Are you sure?” In the end I’m glad I demanded my constitutional rights as a patient – most of which I was still denied, namely:

  • Timely provision of health care.

  • Provision of quality services.

  • The right to information.

  • Courtesy and respect.

  • Confidentiality of patient information.

Finally I got my prescription, and I really have to remind myself never to go to that terrible wing again. Now that I’ve vented, maybe I’ll write a complaint letter. Patients, remember your rights. Doctors, respect your patient’s rights! Or at least be nice. Don’t be a douche!


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