Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Tongue of Angels

I think I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions some of my frustrations with how I am occasionally treated as a practitioner by rude patients. In trying to be compassionate, avoid legal issues, or trouble with my boss, I often feel like I don’t have any choice but to put up with at least some of their negative behavior.
Here are some of the worst things I have been told by a patient:
“I wanted a doctor, not some kid!”
“You don’t look like you are coming from the beauty parlor, that’s for sure!” (or something similar about my poor appearance. I hope she was referring to my blue lunch lady hat and my pretty yellow gown and not my appearance in general, although I wouldn’t argue too much about that while I am at work.)
“You can numb me but you can’t use the needle!” –How else am I supposed to do it then?
“What kind of patients do you have that can’t lie flat?!” After I asked if it was okay that I lay her back in the chair.
“They are so rough!” To my staff doctor about me and my assistant.
“If I don’t like what you are doing, I’m going to poke you in the gut!”
“OWE! She’s hurting me!” To my assistant, like I’m not there and as if I am hurting her on purpose.
“Because you are a woman! I hate/don’t trust women doctors.” In response to the question, “You don’t seem happy with me. Is there something that makes you uneasy about me?”
“That DAMN gauze!”
“Why are you numbing me there when there aren’t any teeth back there?”
“Are you even a practicing physician?” Actually, I am a practicing dentist.
“It’s my teeth, not my brain, that are bad!” After I asked her to state her name and birthday for our “time out.” I didn’t dare ask her the procedure again, as I was berated for asking about what we were doing that day earlier on.
Unfortunately, these aren’t a collection of quotes from the last few years. They are a collection of quotes from a single appointment with a single patient.
I think I remained patient and calm throughout the procedure. I tried to be my absolute gentlest. But it doesn’t help you receive the best care when you are constantly berating your clinician, questioning their every move, and being uncooperative. And the gender bias, coming from another woman, made it that much worse.
I don’t understand why this is acceptable behavior. No one deserves to be treated that way. I was there to perform a service she was requesting. I gave her the opportunity to leave when she seemed unhappy her appointment was with me. I offered her to stop during the appointment when she continued to be unhappy, and she kept asking me to proceed. I guess I get tired of the physical threats, prejudices about my age or gender, and people taking pain or other discomforts of the procedure personally. If I treated patients in a similar way that they sometimes treat me, I would be in a lot of trouble. But they get away with it, and expect great care after they humiliate/threaten/question my abilities.
Go hug you dentist! They probably need some luv’in.


Abby said...

Ugh. Some people are just so rude. We all run into these creeps from time to time but it would be especially unpleasant when you are trying to HELP them.

For the record, I've always liked the dentist:) And Coop loooves toothbrushes--you would be so pleased.

Tawnya said...

ok, that is out of hand! Ugh, sorry!

Angela Johnson said...

She should have been nicer. You had a knife.

I used to be a payroll accountant at UVU and occasionally told really rude people that I was going to charge them a fee for dealing with their attitude...even after someone told on me. :o) Seriously? Yes, I messed up your paycheck on purpose, even though you were the one who didn't report your hours and especially considering the fact that I don't even know you. 6,000 people work here.

Oriens said...

please tell me you sent that patient home and not to a hospital room...

Sorry you have to deal with unsavory creatures - and I think you are an awesome dentist.

Suz said...

I like the "charge extra" idea.