Friday, March 11, 2011

Yes You Can Abuse Me. I Am Your Doctor.

Doctors, why do we do this? We let our patients abuse us to a degree we wouldn't tolerate from acquaintances, friends, or even family members. You all know what I'm talking about. The verbal abuse we receive from our patients would make their mothers cry in shame and their fathers break out the hickory switch for a quick swat to the behind. Yet we just smile and continue with our jobs as if nothing happened instead of correcting this misbehavior.

I've been kicked, grabbed, spat on, and swung at with a closed fist. And I'm just the freaking anesthesiologist. If our patients attempted any of these aggressions on a police officer, they'd be hauled off to jail faster than they can scream "Don't Taze me bro'!" Why don't they understand I'm here to help? I'm supposed to be their friend and ally. I'm here to protect them from the dastardly deeds being concocted by the surgeons to rid their body of bad humors.

Sure you can say the patient's bad attitudes are a consequence of their ill health. But that is not always the case. Some of the most humiliating verbal abuse I've received have come from perfectly oriented patients, or their family. The complaints. The whining. The threats, both physical and legal. They'll think they can influence my medical judgement by declaring they have a family member who is a lawyer. Or they have a good friend who is on the hospital's board of directors.

Yet through it all we doctors continue to perform our duties. We bite our tongues and laugh about our abusers after we've treated and saved their lives. We don't need to be canonized for the work we do. But we should expect a little respect. Otherwise we just might take out our revenge by writing about it in a medical blog.

1 comment:

  1. I have just discovered your blog and love it! I was a patient who went through 8 major surgeries between 2009-2011 due to severe acute necrotizing pancreatitis, with a 6 month hospitalization. I aam doing great now, thanks to all my doctors and nurses. This post made me feel so sad that patient would abuse those who take care of them. I was as sick as a person can get and survive, but I was never ugly to anyone, so I don't consider illness a good enough excuse. Please know that there are many patients who are grateful every day for all their doctors did for them.