I have recently joined a Patient and Family Advocacy Committee at our local hospital. My husband is in a high ranking senior management position at
this hospital. It is a small hospital/nursing home. It Is classified as a Critical Access Facility and services a rural area with a great deal of
He was on this committee and while the committee, ostensibly, was seeking community members to join who had a bad experience at the hospital, such as
myself, they seemed, somehow... to just not be able to find anyone. Now, I found this incredible considering my own experiences at this hospital and
considering the experiences relayed to me by several other community members. My husband felt that this lack of input was contributing to an echo
chamber that was developing within the committee. As far as they are concerned, everything is great and only getting better. I have joined this
committee, against my better judgement, after my husband asked me to, repeatedly, for months... But I digress.
I have gone to one meeting and everyone on this committee knows who I am and who my husband is. However, no one on this committee has a personal
relationship with me, nor have they interacted with me outside of the hospital. I have only gone to one meeting, but what I observed was microcosm
of the culture that has perpetuated the circumstance that caused my bad experiences.
The short, short version is that because of rumor, innuendo, internal politics and the fact that it says I am a recovering addict in my medical
record, I have been assumed to be a drug seeker (I'm not, I can't even take opiates they make me violently ill, but they never even let me get that
far), or, a malingerer (I'm not that either). This preconceived notion began over ten years ago with the opinion of one nurse (who is currently
barely hanging onto her job) and a woman who worked for my husband in his department who despised me, and just kept its legs in the hot house social
atmosphere that always exists in small communities. This ultimately resulted in a circumstance where I was simply not believed when I recounted my
symptoms. This was a situation that progressed for over four years. As a result I ended up having to have surgery for a problem that was life
threatening and said surgery had complications that led to a three day hospital stay, all because the situation was allowed to progress for so long.
In fact, when I presented at the walk in clinic with acute pancreatitis, the provider didn't even bother to look at the lab results until the next
day. Early that morning, I got a rather panicked phone call from her telling me she was sending me to a specialist and she should have admitted me.
This is not the only circumstance, but it was by far the worst one.
When I had my surgery, which was at a different facility, I awoke to severe back pain. I knew something was wrong. It felt like pancreatitis. There
was a nurse present, and I told her my back hurt. She said "Everyone hurts after surgery". I explained this was excessive and it felt like
pancreatitis. I was again told, that everyone hurts after surgery but she could give me some motrin. She handed me the pills (which I took lying on
my side as I couldn't get up because I was still groggy and my back hurt), before she even handed me the water, at which point, in a voice dripping
with contempt she said "Wow! You sure are good at popping pills!"
I called her a bitch. She just smirked. She was pretty sure she had caught a drug seeker. Now, her response is fairly typical for what I get from
nurses these days. But when you are groggy and recovering from surgery, and you KNOW something is going wrong with your body and you also KNOW no
one is going to listen to you because they think that you are a drug seeker, there are few more helpless feelings in the world. Lucky for me,
eventually the other nurses in the recovery room caught on that I wasn't just hamming for pain meds and bothered to talk to the surgeon and take some
blood work. I was admitted after this. Although, it took over 8 hours for them to do so; presumably, for at least part of that they deliberated
whether or not I was a drug seeker. It was pancreatitis and my liver was not doing well either.
Now, I know that nurses have a hard job. I know that. I have a lot of friends that are nurses. People that I like and respect, but even they will
complain about a significant subset of the patients that they serve. It seems like there is a culture of contempt within nursing, where because they
have a hard job they feel entitled to make moral judgements about people shame them and even, in extreme circumstances, actively withhold care from
those that they deem to be drug seekers or malingering because their time is better spent elsewhere. I think they are woefully undertrained in
actually spotting either of these circumstances and clearly have no idea how to address it properly even if they do identify it correctly, which
again, in my experience they usually don't. They are also clearly lacking in training in professional ethics.
Because there is a nursing shortage, no one is allowed to criticize them. There is a big problem within the profession and it is only getting worse
and no one will address it. It's like the elephant in the living room. I am fed up with what I see as a bunch of entitled snots who seem to think
that they have a right to mistreat people that they don't like because their job is frustrating and difficult.
For example, in my first meeting in that committee the Director of Nursing is there. She is part of the committee. Her words were professional, her
tone and inflection was fine, for the most part; save the occasional Junior High girl, snotty grunt that I would ground my daughter for giving me. If
you have teenage girls around you know the sound I mean; it's a little "ungh" from the chest, usually accompanied by an eye roll. It's just such a
snotty, passive aggressive thing.
Her body language was horrific. I could have played a drinking game to her eye rolls. I watched her bully and demean her coworkers and watched
them tip toe around her trying not to offend her ego. At one point, she popped her hand up in an aggravated manner in another coworkers face in a
"shush I'm talking" gesture. Didn't even turn her head to look at her, just snapped her hand in her face. It was completely unwarranted and out of
line. I was astonished. In short, she showed me exactly what I am seeing from nurses, a condescending, petty, nasty bully who likes pushing people
This is a medical professional. This is nursing leadership, who is supposed to model appropriate behavior. What the actual hell? How is this
acceptable? No one even batted an eye when she popped her hand up in a PA's face like she was a child who was speaking out of turn, well except maybe
the PA. My jaw hit the floor. Talk about a hostile work environment. I have worked in bars, truck stops and strip clubs, and even a strip club
that was a truck stop (no kidding). I mean, rough places and I have never seen someone do that to a coworker. Maybe because it would have been a
brawl, but still. Good lord. I have PTSD. If she did that crap to me there would be a pretty could chance I would react before I thought, slap her
hand (if she was lucky), or pin it to the table and get arrested for assault.
Anyway, rant over.
edit on 1-8-2017 by redhorse because: (no reason given)