26 May 2011
the medical profession is sick
I've been wanting to update my blog for weeks now but every time I sit down to type, what I end up doing is ranting about the hospital/medical system in Australia. WTF? I hear you ask. So, I'm going to just purge and get this out, then no more ranting for a while. Hopefully.
Look, don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic doctors, nurses and other medical professionals out there. My sister is an ER nurse and I know she's great at her job. My mother was a nurse for over 40 years and I know she was great at her job. They both work/worked with some people who were also a credit to their profession. The chiropractic clinic I visit weekly provides the most incredible patient education and care I've ever experienced.
But when I was diagnosed with Lymphoedema, I was misdiagosed several times before I actually went back to a doctor and suggested it as a possibility. Before I suggested it could be Lymphoedema, I was subjected to a myriad of tests, only to be told I needed to lose weight, I should quit my job, I should work less hours, that I had arthritis (I don't) and that I just need to deal with the pain I was experiencing. These were conclusions drawn by different doctors. I cannot tell you how frustrating and infuriating that experience was.
A few months later, I was injured in an accident and was treated like total shit by the surgeon dealing with my case. After months of pain, physiotherapy sessions and not being able to walk without a crutch, I was belittled and mocked in that final appointment. It was a humiliating experience.
More recently, my mother has been diagnosed with Whooping Cough and pneumonia. When she first presented at the hospital with symptoms, the doctor glossed over her results and essentially sent her home to die. She endured six weeks of hell, until she was rushed back to hospital by ambulance. Mum being a tough cookie, gave that same doctor a real piece of her mind and told him that she deserved a hell of a lot more respect than he had shown. The second doctor to treat her admitted that he knew very little about Whooping Cough, so she suggested he get online and educate himself. Why the hell should she even have to do that? She is still on medication and slowly recovering.
My aunt, who had been in contact with my mum during her contagious period had to be taken to hospital because she had similar symptoms to those my mother had when she first got sick. That hospital refused to test her for Whooping Cough. She too ended up back in hospital again.
The father of a friend has had months of seizures and has seen several doctors, one neurologist who was an arrogant, useless arse and one who was a lot more helpful. They still don't have any answers and his life is basically on hold because of these daily seizures that are somehow a medical mystery.
My own father has had several surgeries in the last few years and he ended up with one botched surgery and plenty of follow ups as a result. My sister inlaw just had major surgery and ended up discharging herself because of the poor treatment. Hell, they didn't even change her sheets in two and a half days, despite her complaining several times.
In my recent visit to an ER because of my back, the ER staff were fantastic. But once I was moved to the Short Stay Unit, I was treated like crap. The unit manager was a disgrace. My sister requested pain medication because I was feeling horrid and when one of the nurses asked the unit manager to sign off on the meds, she instead asked that nurse to check out something cool on her iPhone. The nurse repeated the request and the unit manager tutted with annoyance, like providing pain relief was somehow asking too much. Between the unit manager being an epic fail and me spending four hours sitting on the edge of a bed, in a hell of a lot of pain, waiting for a doctor to see me, I was fed up and discharged myself.
These are not isolated incidents, I'm constantly hearing of friends and family having shitty experiences with the medical profession and honestly, I'm fed up. I wrote to the hospital that my aunt was admitted to, I have so far had no reply. So, Ballarat Base Hospital, consider yourself named and shamed.
For most of us, when we see a health professional, we are placing ALL of our trust in that person or institution. When we present with pain or with serious symptoms, it's a scary fucking experience and I just wish all health professionals would remember that.
Look, I can be a ballbreaker of a customer/client/patient, generally don't take any shit. I once walked out of an appointment with an optometrist because the douchebag ate a sandwich during my consultation and didn't even look me in the face. I stood up, told him he was a pathetic joke, walked out and as he walked out behind me, I told the reception staff what had occured, then went home and wrote an email to his employer. I've also walked out on an appointment with a GP who was just phoning it in. He couldn't have given a shit about my problem.
Most people take the word of a doctor as gospel. Yes, in this day and age, we should do our best to better educate ourselves about our bodies and the factors of our lives that have an affect out health. Yes, we should be more assertive in the level of treatment we not only expect but deserve. WE need to be far more proactive in our own health care, for sure. Many of us are more proactive when it comes to poor customer service in retail but will not question anything their doctor tells them.
But the medical profession as a whole needs to regroup and get its act together. GP's need to start getting to know their patients again and stop handing out antibiotics like candy. Oh, don't get me started on that! Hospitals need to stop treating patients like cattle. I realise there is an enormous strain on their resources but pathetic employees like the unit manager who was in charge of my care have no place in the industry. Judgemental doctors also need to pull their heads out of their arses and treat people with equal respect. My mother is a smoker and while I detest the habit, the first doctor to 'treat' her was completely dismissive because she smokes. Same thing went for my aunt at the other hospital.
Like I said at the beginning, I know there are many great health professionals out there and I cannot praise them highly enough but the chain is only as strong as its weakest link....and there are a lot of weak links in the Australian health care industry at the moment. Something needs to change. Now.
written by jodie