I contacted the hospital’s patient advocate office, simply to share my story and make them aware of my treatment. I wasn’t looking for compensation, but I was hoping that the attitude I encountered in that hospital would be addressed. While the customer service representatives I spoke with were very apologetic and kind, it doesn’t make me feel better about the staff who did nothing to inform me or calm me down. As medical professionals, I assumed that was part of their job. The advocates office told me that I should have asked to speak to a manager that evening, and perhaps I should have. But who considers questioning the doctors and nurses who’ve been entrusted to save your life?
All patients are in a vulnerable position, especially in the midst of an emergency. We don’t feel that we have the knowledge to question doctors or surgeons, no matter how they treat us. That night, even in my anger, I trusted that doctor who only spoke a sentence to me. For better or worse, my life was in his hands.
Since my experience, though, I’ve spoken with friends and family about my wariness of hospital staff. “You need to be your own advocate,” I’ve told them. “You have to keep asking questions and demanding that they pay attention.” The patient advocates told me that the doctor who treated me hadn’t realized his bedside manner was abrupt. He said that he had no idea that I wasn’t informed by the nurses of what was going on. The nurses said that the assumed the doctor had reassured me when he stopped in. Even in a relatively empty E.R., I had gotten lost in the shuffle. If I ever have to return to the E.R., I have a feeling I’ll be the patient the nurses hate; I’ll badger them with questions until I’m satisfied with the answers.
This experience has caused me to question my faith in many things, but it has completely destroyed the trust I once had for medical professionals. It I was naive, that horror of suffering has cured me. And whether it’s fair or not to put this on their conscience, I hope that the doctor and nurses I came into contact with think of me next time they treat a shattered woman who’s mental and physical health rely not just on meds, but some reassurance that things will be okay. I hope that they realize that they failed once, so that they’ll try harder with the women who have to go through this horror after me.