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The other day I was in the elevator at a major Boston hospital heading to the 16th floor.  The elevator was full of people; visitors carryi...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Medical professionals who are anything but.




We have all met them. Or worked with them. Or have heard stories about them. Bad medical professionals. Be it nurses, MDs, dentists, physical therapists. You name it. They are out there. Everywhere.

And just because someone has MD after their name, or RN, it simply does not make them a compassionate, caring person. No. Not by a long shot.

Nor does it mean they are necessarily competent. No matter how impressive their credentials are.

I could tell you stories, scary stories that would make you sad. And afraid. But I won't.

I would have to say that most medical professionals are good people. They know their limits and ask for help when necessary. But there are a few out there with an ego as big as Sputnik, and those are the ones that give all the rest of us a black eye.

Nurses know what I am talking about. The arrogant resident, for example, who thinks he knows it all. But he is merely book smart with a fancy degree from a Ivy league school who could not cut his own toenails well, let alone know what to do for a patient in crisis. But he refuses to listen to an RN because, well, we are just beneath him. We could not possibly know anything. And he is dangerous. 007's we call them. Licensed to kill.

Or the RN who gets the best accolades from management because she never calls in sick and works extra shifts and always charts perfectly. Unfortunately, she is awful with any practical patient care and actually puts patients in harm's way. But you cannot say anything, no one is listening. So you just clean up after her as much as you can and hope for the best.

It is maddening. It is what stresses out nurses and MDs and others more than anything else. I always say that it is not the job I hate at times, just the people I am forced to work with that make the job hard.

That is not to say I think myself perfect or that I have never made a mistake. I have. But I try to learn from any mistake I make. I also ask for help when needed. And I always, always, put the patent's needs first.

And that is what you should look for when you are looking at care providers. Putting your needs first. Treating you as a person. Not a diagnosis, not a 4:00pm appointment, not a simple home visit.

They should greet you warmly and look at you. In the eyes. They should listen to you without interrupting or putting words into your mouth. They should explain things thoroughly and not look at their watch every time you ask another question. That is simply rude.

Most people know when something seems not quite right. They realize their concerns are simply being dismissed. They may have a gut feeling that someone is doing something wrong. But most are too intimidated to say anything.

But I will tell you this; be the squeaky wheel. Complain. Put complaints in writing. And repeat as necessary.

The one thing that I can say for sure after being a nurse for 30 years is this; medical professionals do not police their own. We see it all. We know who is bad. We have all witnessed things that we have found to be quite incredulous. But many of us have not said a word. Or we have said something, only to be shot down. They kill the messenger. See if we do that again. It is frustrating, but true.

So, beware. Don't assume that because you are going to a well respected institution for care that everyone there is top drawer. They aren't. Ask around. Get referrals from friends or people with the same medical issues. Go online and search.

I know people who ask for more information about a veterinarian for their dog or a hairdresser for their hair. And I have seen people change their hairdresser after a bad cut, but not too many who will change their MD after a bad diagnosis. It is crazy. It really is.

There are many good, hardworking, excellent medical people out there. Start with the MD and the hospital of course. You cannot always choose your nurse, but you can unchoose her by stating your concerns. Trust your gut. Follow your own thinking.

It could save your life.


All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.
~~~Winston Churchill

Guard against the prestige of great names; see that your judgments are your own; and do not shrink from disagreement; no trusting without testing.
~~~John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run
~~~Kenny Rogers

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