Friday, 4 January 2013

If only it wasn't for the patients...

If only it wasn’t for the patients there would be such nice orderly wards and clinics with everything running smoothly.

Dr Harold Shipman reached that stage in his career when he found the job less rewarding than it had once been. Unfortunately instead of giving up or taking a sabbatical, he started to poison his elderly and irritating patients. There are probably more than a few struggling A and E practitioners who begin to feel that way on a Saturday night too.

The thing is, it’s the patients that should make it all worthwhile. Unfortunately, Victorian attitudes have been handed down from Doctor to Doctor and from Nurse to Nurse. Generally, if you can avoid talking to a patient, that’s best.

One reason patients aren’t seen as rewarding is that we can be such a pain in the neck. The problem is that when you are ill that’s all you think about. People forget that they are human beings and that the staff around them are human beings too.

Unacceptable behaviour should be treated as just that; unacceptable. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be treated but a system of yellow and red cards would be easily understood and in all but the most urgent cases there is no reason why treatment couldn’t be delayed for a patient to be spoken to about their behaviour by someone who is trained to do that and is not part of the medical staff. Many people actually do not realise that their behaviour is unpleasant – it needs to be explained to them.

Some unpleasant behaviour is caused by people’s medical condition, fear or pain.

At the same time there are medical tests that are given painfully, cannulas that are inserted wrongly and blood samples taken by staff less able to use a needle than a drug addict. There’s no excuse for not doing your job properly. Maybe when Doctors and Nurses are learning at medical school they should try out inserting cannulas on each other under supervision before they try it out on patients.

At the end of it all, it’s about having a bit of mutual respect.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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