where is the care in healthcare?

I think that everyone who knows me and/or reads this blog, knows that I like to focus on the positive. I rarely rant or let negativity occupy my thoughts.

But I’d posted the following on facebook last night after a nasty encounter at one of our local healthcare facilities with a health care ‘professional’ and based on the passionate responses I rec’d to the post, I believe the subject merits further discussion with a broader audience.

getting caught with her pants down

Here is what happened. There was a really noisy patient in the next room to my husband who began using profanity in addition to being overly obnoxious and loud. Neither my husband nor his roommate could rest because of the constant moaning and vocalizing. In fact, my husband’s roommate had said that he’d gotten almost no sleep the night before because of it.

When I politely mentioned the situation to one of the aids, she said she’d mention it to one of the nurses and see what could be done. I coincidentally approached the nursing station a few moments later at my husband’s request to ask why his test was being delayed and heard a nurse saying to fellow staff, “What does she think this is, the RITZ?!” I was stunned! Not only was that comment unkind, disrespectful–and certainly not one that should have been made openly to other staff members–but when I said, “I am the person you are making fun of  …” expecting some form of apology and remorse, the nurse in question defended her position, indicating that people should not expect a hospital to be quiet, and if I didn’t like it, I could leave!

As a patient advocate, I wasn’t making the case for myself, but rather for my husband, who was attempting to rest before his surgical procedure, and for his roommate who was also irritated by the noise coming from next door. Neither of them could leave to get away from the nauseating noise, and I wasn’t about to leave my husband, who was overcome with concern about the impending procedure. Feeling I was getting nowhere with this glaring nurse, I quietly said the word “b*tch” and proceeded to speak to my husband’s nurse, about the time of the test. I then turned and walked away from the nursing station.

The irate and irritating nurse proceeded to follow me into my husband’s room (she wasn’t his nurse) and advised me that she could have me forcibly removed from the premises for being disrespectful to her!

I agree that I shouldn’t have sworn at her, albeit softly. But she had pushed my buttons.

After a very stressful period of more than six weeks during which my husband had been extremely ill, and the fact that the doctor had said there may be cancer involved, I was unable to contain myself and used the “b” word when she didn’t seem to care that I had overheard her openly insulting me. Instead of being kind, empathetic, respectful, and showing common courtesy for the spouse of someone who might be facing life-threatening illness, I was treated with rudeness and threatened.

I realize that we all have bad days and who knows? She may be under some stress herself, but she is being paid to be caring. She is a health care professional. She met my act of caring with rudeness and a threat. I really doubt this situation ever would have happened in a paid healthcare system. Is the fact that healthcare professionals are unionized in my home province causing some of the workers to believe they are above reproach? She got her manager to come speak to me, and the manager assured me this individual was a very capable employee. So perhaps this was an isolated case. And I admit I was partly to blame by uttering a swear word in response.

Has anything like this ever happened to you in a hospital or public institution? If so, let’s talk about it! 

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

72 Responses

  1. Lynda says:

    Doreen, the way you anticipate and meet the needs of those you care for is remarkable. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the healthcare system.

  2. john smith says:

    Thank you for shedding light on such an important topic! Your article beautifully highlights the essence of true healthcare—caring. In today’s world of technology and fast-paced life, it’s incredibly valuable to remind ourselves of the heart and compassion that should underpin healthcare. Your insights are truly inspiring and much appreciated!
    John smith

  3. 3d4dbaby says:

    “Guaranteeing access to quality medical services is fundamental for advancing general prosperity and life span. From preventive screenings to opportune medicines, focusing on well-being and care upgrades individual lives as well as reinforces networks and cultivates thriving. Maintaining free healthcare benefits and promoting a culture of health for all should be our continued priorities.”

  4. Shahzad says:

    Doreen, I empathize with your frustrating experience. It’s disheartening when healthcare professionals lack empathy. Your advocacy for your husband deserves respect. Let’s hope open discussions like these lead to positive changes in healthcare interactions. Wishing your husband a swift recovery.

  5. Jacob says:

    As someone who has worked in healthcare, I found your article to be thought-provoking and spot on. You discusses the shift in healthcare to focusing on efficiency and productivity, often at the expense of patient care and compassion and makes a compelling case for why we need to bring the humanity back to healthcare and prioritize empathy and attentiveness towards patients again. Good job.

  6. alex says:

    Healthcare is the cornerstone of well-being, a fundamental right that impacts us all. It’s a dynamic field that combines science, compassion, and innovation to improve and save lives. Let’s continue to support and prioritize healthcare for a healthier, brighter future.

  7. pimak says:

    Access to affordable and quality healthcare is essential for all individuals. It is crucial to prioritize preventive care, improve healthcare infrastructure, and promote universal health coverage. Collaboration between stakeholders, innovation in technology, and a patient-centered approach are key to ensuring a healthier and happier future for everyone.

  8. Cynthia says:

    At its core, healthcare is about caring for people’s health and well-being, and it’s important not to lose sight of that. While medical technology and treatments are essential, they are only part of the equation. True healthcare also involves empathy, compassion, and a genuine concern for patients’ physical, emotional, and mental health.

  9. Cynthia says:

    From advocating for ourselves and our loved ones to seeking out providers who prioritize patient-centered care, there are many ways to put the care back in healthcare. By working together, we can create a healthcare system that truly puts patients first and helps us all achieve optimal health and wellness.

  10. Qrex says:

    It sounds like you had a very frustrating and negative experience with a healthcare professional while trying to advocate for your husband’s care. It’s understandable that you would feel upset and overwhelmed given the circumstances and the added stress of your husband’s potential illness. However, it’s never okay for a healthcare professional to be rude or disrespectful to a patient or their family member. It’s important for healthcare professionals to be empathetic and understanding towards their patients, as they are entrusted with their care. It’s unfortunate that you were subjected to this behavior, and I hope that you were able to find some resolution and that your husband’s care improved after this incident.

  11. Aldrin Shepherd says:

    It’s a disgrace that nearly all and sundry seems to have a dreaded healthcare story. At a time in our life, while we are already stressed and susceptible, it’s a shame that we should also tolerate abuse from within the healthcare system.

  12. Ashutosh says:

    Most of the experiences I’ve had with nursing staff (both my own and when my people were wiped out in Saudi Arabia) have been positive and I genuinely trust this is a separated event. Time in crisis facility is troubling and the attitude of the nursing staff has a significant impact to patients and their families.

  13. Interesting post about health care. Thanks for sharing.

  14. eddy says:

    Sorry to hear that you had difficulties with the healthcare system! Hopefully everything will be better, but we all have our good and bad days.

  15. Sarah Angela says:

    Very well explained! Thanks for sharing your views in such an insightful piece of content regarding the important issue of healthcare.

  16. I really appreciate your efforts for the energy and knowledge you used to write such an insightful piece of content about healthcare.

  17. Leon Thomas says:

    This is absolutely unacceptable on their part. You did the right thing in complaining. I don’t think a simple apology is enough, they should fire their nurse. If they don’t, you can report them in Google Reviews.

  18. I just wanted everyone to know that I did follow the advice of several of you (and others) and sent a letter to the CEO of the health organization that oversees the health facility where the infraction occurred. Here is his response:

    “Please accept my sincere apologies for you and your husband’s negative and disrespectful experience. Your e-mail demonstrates your reasonableness and sensitivity to the challenges hospital staff face but those challenges are no excuse to treat patients and their families disrespectfully.

    I have copied our Vice President of Acute Care and Chief Nursing Officer – and by doing so am asking her to follow-up with the hospital’s Clincial Manager.

    Please know that the Clinical Team Manager will speak with nursing staff and we will do our best to confirm the nurse in question and place your complaint on her file.”
    WizardOfWords recently posted…Have you found YOUR tribe?My Profile

  19. Gail says:

    Hi Doreen – thank you for pointing me to this discussion. As I write this I am sitting by the bedside of my 17 year old son, who recently broke his tibula and fibula (the second in two places). The leg was broken yesterday in Swift Current and we were brought by ambulance to Saskatoon to meet with surgeons., but were told, that we probably wouldn’t have it operated on (to have a rod and a panel installed), until Tuesday at the earliest.

    Our experience has been this: while the medical professionals have been kind and supportive in general, they seem to brush off his claims of pain, with nary a hesitation.

    They are giving him morphine every two hours, and just to lift the leg off it’s support pillows an inch is agony for him, yet the surgeon said that seeing as it would possibly be Wednesday before they could see him now, he might prefer to remain at home waiting. When I pointed out that we lived 2.5 hours away he looked at me as if I was stupid and said “I know, it’s just an option.” I disagreed. It is not an option.

    For disagreeing, I was relegated to the “helicopter parent” in his mind. And yes, who knows, I am not in my son’s body, maybe he’s over dramatic, maybe he’s not being as tough as he should be, or maybe, just maybe breaking your leg in three places hurts like the devil, and you should not be so cavalier about it. (When explaining why people with broken hips were ahead of him, he told my son, “they could die, while you are obviously comfortable here.” Nope, not so obvious. While we have no desire to raise ourselves on the list ahead of those who have more serious repercussions if not seen too immediately, please do not be cavalier about the pain he is in.

    I’m watching a 17 yr who thinks I’m “embarrassing him” if I crack a not-so-funny-joke, break down in tears in front of pretty young nurses, pretty sure he wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t for the pain.

    I’m reminded of that movie with William Hurt (whose name escapes me), who is a heartless doctor, until such time as he himself becomes a cancer patient. I wish this surgeon could spend just a day with this kind of broken leg.

  20. Raj says:

    I feel really bad, for your experience… there should be proper health treatments and care.

  21. Doreen — there are nasty nurses in both the U.S. and Canada just as their are caring nurses. When my husband was ill I came across both types — and remember a particularly uncaring doctor.

    My husband and I once spent 36 straight hours in the emergency room waiting for a bed for him. He actually became delusional which is called “emergency room syndrome,” as one resident doctor told me, and happens fairly often. If that’s the case why isn’t there a better system in place to get patients out of the ER and into a hospital bed?

    I’ve found you have to be your own advocate in a hospital. That’s the health care system we have to live with.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…The Endless Debate: Will Your Audience Read Long Content?My Profile

    • Thx for your comment, Jeannette, and Thx also to Dr. Diana, for your comment.

      It is indeed a shame that almost everyone seems to have a dreaded healthcare story. At a time in our life when we are already stressed and vulnerable, it’s a shame that we also have to tolerate abuse.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…what’s in a name?My Profile

  22. Dr. Diana says:


    I always mention about health care in each month’s magazine issue. I don’t know why people don’t have sense to talk with others. If we are talking politely with them then they should do the same.

    God Bless You!

    ~Dr. Diana Hardy
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  23. Jeri says:

    So sorry to hear about your less than stellar experience, but everyone does have bad days. Everyone cracks at some point, so it would be interesting to see if this was her “norm” or just an isolated incident. Patients are under enough stress without having to deal with stressed-out workers as well. That being sad, I did have a bad day now and again as a teacher. It happens. Yet, I always learned from those bad days. Hopefully, the snippy nurse realized she was in the wrong, though that doesn’t excuse the impact her actions can have on others.
    Jeri recently posted…#CoverDesign: 5 Expert Tips on Creating a Winning Book CoverMy Profile

    • Hi Jeri. I hear what you’re saying. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. Yet, this nurse upset me so much with her firstly, insensitive and inappropriate comment, secondly with the fact that she said it in front of the rest of the staff, as if this kind of condescending comment was the norm, and thirdly, that she followed me into the room and threatened to have me removed. Those 3 individual parts to the scene make it deliberate versus an accidental or isolated situation.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…where is the care in healthcare?My Profile

  24. Yes. I have a similar post about health care coming. It’s in an awful state. I’m sorry for your experience.ox
    Carol Cassara recently posted…Choose LIFE.My Profile

  25. Donna says:

    here is what we need, super heroes we can call on at a moments notice to come and avenge situations just like this. They would swoop down on that nurses station, grab that nurse by the lapels and make her apologize to you!!
    Donna recently posted…Books for KatherineMy Profile

  26. Oh My Goodness. That is awful Doreen. We all have bad days, but regardless, to me, there is no excuse for that.

    I do realize that some kinds of stress can cause people to act out in a ways that isn’t their norm. If that was the case, it’s very unfortunate that her actions caused such you such distress. I wish all the best for you and your husband and that his recovery is without any more unfortunate events. Sending prayers. 🙂
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    • Thx, Susan. I had a grt talk with a gal pal yesterday, and we concluded that part of the problem was likely that the young aid may have not clearly relayed my concern/request, and if that was the case, if may have caused the nurse to inappropriately react to it. Would she have come to the room to clarify my request and politely reply had I not interrupted her rude response at the nursing station? We’ll never know.
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  27. Carl says:

    Really terrible that this happened in a hospital. You spend all that money in taxes/bills and should get decent care out of it. Hopefully the rude nurse will not be in that field much longer.

  28. What a horrible situation! If I walked up to the nurse’s station and heard that being said about me, I’m not sure I would’ve been as diplomatic with the quiet uttering of a choice word. I would’ve expected at least another nurse to speak with you away from the rude one to discuss things, even if nothing could be done about the obnoxiously loud patient. I would certainly still write that letter. Regardless if there haven’t been problems ‘reported’ before, what if everyone decided to chalk it up to someone just having a bad day? And I know that’s possible too. But at least you could provide your side of the story that relates to how she treated you – not even questioning her ability. Then, if said employee receives another complaint, your letter is on record and disciplinary action is more likely to be taken. Furthermore, I hope your husband gets answers soon. I’ll keep you both in my prayers.
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    • Thx for sharing your take on things, Pamela, and for your support. I sprained my ankle yesterday, so am not up to writing that letter this week, but. I just may do so next week, as I agree. There really is no excuse for that type of arrogance and disrespect from a so-called healthcare ‘professional.’
      WizardOfWords recently posted…where is the care in healthcare?My Profile

  29. Debbie says:

    That is a horrible experience! I can’t imagine going through something like that. I have been in the hospital for a variety of tests and have never experienced anything like that. My experiences have all been very good. However, as you know my two daughters have just delivered babies this year in two different hospitals and their experiences were like night and day. I must say that St. Boniface & Grace hospitals are the best! They treat you with respect. I would definitely write a letter to the WRHA and the head of the hospital. I
    would not put up with that! I hope the test went well.

    • Hi Debbie. Thx so much for your comment. I was back at the same healthcare facility today as I sprained my ankle (lucky me!) and I had excellent service and the staff was great as always in Emerg. It was the day surgery dept that has the difficult employee I encountered. I may write a letter about the encounter, or I may just let it go as a bad experience as the supervisor had said she’s never had problems before with the employee on question. I know we all have bad days.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…where is the care in healthcare?My Profile

  30. Mina Joshi says:

    Gosh – the health care worker sounds so rude. you don’t need this kind of stress when a family member is unwell. People here in UK are always saying terrible things about the NHS – but in all the years I have lived in UK – I have never had any bad treatment or rude language from any of the hospital staff. I feel thankful.

  31. Doreen, I can tell you some stories about my hospital stays that you wouldn’t believe. Seriously.

    I cannot understand why that aide would be so flippant with you. Rude, indeed! I don’t blame you for being upset. I would be, too. I hope all is well with both you and your husband.
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    • Thanks for your comment, and the good wishes, Lorraine. We’d had pretty good luck with the hospital staff up to now, in the different facilities he’s been in. But indeed, that nurse was rude and from what I’m hearing … other people (including you!) have had similarly unpleasant experiences. Fortunately,and thankfully, I believe the good far outweigh the bad.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…what’s in a name?My Profile

  32. Because they are gathering grounds for physical and emotional pain, bad reactions to medication and emergency situations, hospitals are noisy places. If Reg finds himself readmitted, a pair of noise cancelling headphones connected to an iPod can help. Then he can drift off to his favourite aria.

    The nurse should have kept quiet – you did not need that added stress – but there is no correlation between her behaviour and public funding for hospitals. It’s a tough job regardless of who writes your paycheque and there are bad apples in every system.

    I really hope the results of the colonoscopy will speed things along for you & Reg. I feel your frustration.

  33. Harry Hobbs says:

    I’m afraid there aren’t too many of us that haven’t experienced problems with health care. One of the worst ones for me was when the doctor came into see my wife and I asked him a question and he said “shut up I’m talking to your wife.” We’ve waited two months for a referral from our Clinic to be sent to a specialist – twice sent to the wrong doctor. When I asked them if I could get contact information for this doctor they said they couldn’t find it and it took me two minutes on Google to get it. Most recently the lab sent my wife’s blood work to the wrong doctor and it goes on. There are indeed many dedicated health care professionals in the field but those others are a pill. You have every right to be upset and I know when you are under a lot of stress an extra hassle can push you over the edge!

    • Thx so much for your comment, Harry. I know that you and Glenda have certainly been thru the mill with the healthcare system. But, wow! I can’t believe a doctor would actually tell you to “shut up!” I’m really glad we’re having this discussion as it is shedding some light and is bringing some issues to light.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…what’s in a name?My Profile

  34. So sorry to hear about your experience. It was utterly inappropriate. I’ve worked with nurses for several years and grew up with them in my family. I can say with confidence, the nurse you met was out of order and should consider some holiday time. I have commented (albeit mockingly) about the nurse olympics I have observed over the years. They are generally in competition to see who can be more caring, more considerate. The nurse you met is NOT the norm and a letter to her supervisor that will sit in her file might be just what she needs to remind her what her job is all about.

    Whatever you decide, please know, she doesn’t represent the profession, unionized or not, they are a group I consider to be everyday heroes. Everyday because they do amazing things day after day with little to no recognition and they have the capacity to make the impossible bearable and the painful pleasant.

    On a more important note, I hope your husband is doing well and that you remember that the stress of worrying and taking care of him means you need to take extra care of yourself! 🙂
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    • Thanks so much for your comment, Debra. I totally agree with you. Most nurses are true gems, and Reg loves to acknowledge that by bringing them chocolates as a thank you for good care. I know that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch, but the experience certainly left a rancid taste in my mouth.
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  35. Hi Doreen,
    I think you may be right, the nurse was probably under stress.
    Stress can cause people to act out of character. It’s unfortunate that her actions escalated into a bad experience of the health care system. I wish your husband a speedy recovery to health.

    Kind Regards,
    William Butler recently posted…How To Get Rid Of Laziness Once and For AllMy Profile

  36. Oh my haven’t you opened a can of worms with this one Doreen! First and foremost, I wish your husband the greatest outcome possible for his surgery. Second, even nice folks like you get irrate. I have many friends who are nurses and they’ve told me that cheer patients and/or family members of patients are rare. In the next breath they say, “But who can blame the…no one likes to be sick or frightened.” Ideally empathy works both ways. In situations like this, that is rarely the case. My retort to such a snide remark would have been bolder than B@#1h, frankly. In my opinion, she was wrong and made it worse by challenging you. It’s her JOB to see to the comfort of those in her care, not to goad them no matter what kind of day she is having. In her job, it is NOT about her. I would have reported her to a supervisor. As to Cathy and Wendy above… I don’t think this was about politics. I find that equally appalling when you are venting about a stressful situation. I could say a lot more about their comments, but today…this is about your husband and YOU! My best…………….
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    • Wendy Peck says:

      Jacqueline: The comments about the health system were bounced from Doreen’s original comments. Here is a reminder, copied directly from Doreen’s words:

      “I really doubt this situation ever would have happened in a paid healthcare system. Is the fact that healthcare professionals are unionized in my home province causing some of the workers to believe they are above reproach?”

      I left the union comment alone, but it was not out of line with my comments, nor do I think Cathy said anything that you should be “appalled” about. Your far-from-subtle judgement that Cathy and I were thoughtless and out of line is stunning, considering that Doreen invited comments on an incident that she gave a clear, and clearly political opinion about.

      Finally, Doreen is one of the most able communicators I have ever met, and we are good friends. If Doreen ever feels I have stepped over any line, I have no doubt she will let that be known in that kind voice that nevertheless leaves no doubt what she means.

      • Thanks for your comment, Wendy. I did indeed say those words and I stand by them. I also invite everyone to share their thoughts freely, as I purposely posted this loaded topic knowing that there would be a variety of responses. Differing opinions are always welcome as long as they are posted respectfully to all.
        WizardOfWords recently posted…where is the care in healthcare?My Profile

      • Wendy, My concern was the attitude of the caregiver towards Doreen and her husband. My take on the article was that she was inviting comments about similar situations that had happened to other folks regarding the caregiver, not the system. My take on the remark about the unionization was that it was completely separate from a politicized healthcare system. I have 3 long time friends who are nurses… this caregiver’s snipe to Doreen was thoughtless and not excusable…I don’t care what in country the incursion occurred, nor the political system woven around and through it….it was unfeeling. Based on what I read in your comments as they pertained to the above post, my opinion is that they weren’t pertinent to her dilemma at that moment. Not knowing that you are Doreen are close friends, I based my opinion on the words I read. I have one, just like you…an opinion, that is. That said, I’ll drop out of the thread.
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    • Thanks for your comment and good wishes, Jacquie. Yes, had the nurse been kind and considerate, I would have accepted ANY explanation from her. But with her condescending attitude, it made me angry and it also made me feel incredibly hurt. Here’s hoping that this indeed a very rare situation that I will not experience again in my lifetime (or anyone else I know for that matter.)
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  37. On July 1 an elderly family member became quite ill and began hallucinating. I was forced into the position of being with the person in the next room who was screaming and bothering everyone. I was horrified. She screamed that she was falling, so I tried to pull her up in the bed because the nurses had left the room. I ended up reinjuring an old back injury which kept me from being able to sleep or sit for the next two weeks. I begged the nurses to do something because my family member was undoubtedly bothering all the other patients. I told them, “This is a hospital, for heaven’s sake. There are sick people here who need their rest.” I was told to go home and not worry about it. So, I ended up living a nightmare of pain (still not over) and was unsuccessful in doing anything to reduce the noise level. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry for you and all the others who have to suffer through the “noise” from other rooms. I remember having my first child and listening to a woman in the next room scream for hours. I bit my lip to remain silent and asked my husband to squeeze my feet until it hurt with each contraction to help me remain silent. I don’t know what the solution is? Better insulation? That would be a beginning, but with today’s emphasis on cost-cutting, not probably feasible.
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  38. Cathy says:

    I am in and out of health care facilities every day and always surprised at the level of care Canadians receive. It is a real shame in my eyes! Why would people await weeks on end for results? I promote “faster, more accurate results” and unfortunately, it comes down to money. The cheap always wins yet over a period of time it is less money. With regards to care, yes nurses/drs/aids/labs are all over worked and expected to do more their time on the floor or at the bench. This over worked environment reflects in the type of work they do. I have even witnessed surgeons texting while doing surgery and talking amongst coworkers about Facebook comments… we hope such “upper level people” are focused at their job but they are simply workers like the rest of us. When my mom was in the hospital for a hip replacement, she ended up staying longer due to a c.diff infection because she sat with her bed pan for hours on end! That is clearly an example from a lack of care.
    All in all, I hope health care services improve… you would never find this poor care in the USA because that hospital would be shut down, nobody would go to it as it would be labeled “awful” and make national news if such things occured. It is the price we pay for “free” health care. I hope the situation improves for you, Doreen & Reg.

    • Wendy Peck says:

      Cathy: You left an important part of your statement about US care out, and that is that it might not happen in the US IF, AND ONLY IF you have great health insurance and the ability to meet your copay. Even with that, with stories from many, many friends in the US, the statement that Doreen’s incident couldn’t happen in the US is remarkably naive. You can’t really think there are no arrogant idiots in the medical system in the US? That is what happened here.

      I get really peeved when our system is compared to the US in such a negative way. If our government spent as much in GDP or per capita as the US public purse does, we would have a 50% infusion of cash to speed up our tests and procedures. And that does not include what is spent by people every month on insurance premiums (hundreds and more per month), deductibles (often $3k-5k per year) and copays (can be tens of thousands). There is no comparison.

      Personally, I think we should use more of our public resources on health, but it is patently unfair to compare the US system that costs so much more than ours. If we had even close to the same money put into our system, their wealthy would be lined up at the border looking for our care.

      • Do you really think so, Wendy? I know that we are fortunate to have universal healthcare in Canada. But … we also pay a princely sum in personal and sales taxes. I know for a fact that when I worked for the government and was earning a healthy wage, I was paying close to 50% in income tax and benefit payments. In the US (MN and ND for sure) they were paying 17% income tax at that same time. And their sales tax a small portion of ours as they don’t have a federal tax. And look what we’re paying for cellphone service and other utilities compared to the US! As said, I am extremely grateful for universal healthcare as my income is now significantly less as a freelance writer than it was as a government employee with all the benefits. But I agree with Cathy that the public just wouldn’t accept less than good service on a paid-for-services basis and so that attitude of arrogance that I experienced with this young nurse is far less likely to occur.
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        • Wendy Peck says:

          Yes, I really do think so, Doreen. If you look at the entire picture, people in the US are not much better for taxes and fees than we are, unless they are high income earners. There is a huge difference for the top people, over 200k or so. We pay high income taxes and federal, but we don’t pay municipal taxes on income or goods. We also pay no tax on food, unlike many places in teh US. (What do you spend more on, year after year.) We also pay less for hydro, car registration and their car insurance coverage compared to cost is pathetic. Their old age pension, disability, employment insurance, etc is also a fraction of ours. They don’t even have cheap gas anymore.

          As an example of how medical is for many, if not most, a friend of mine has a husband who has worked for almost 20 years at a pretty high level (they fly him all over the world to set up computer systems) for a long-established, top company. Their portion of the insurance is about $500 a month, and the first $4K of medical expenses is their deductible. They don’t get 100% of the costs covered. My friend may need back surgery, and they are looking at a copay of over 20k. Plus the US spends over $7k per person. When I saw that stat, we were at $3.7k. And our outcomes are equal or better in many tested areas.

          I will not deny that if you have top insurance, and extra cash to handle copay, the service you can get in the US is impressive. But getting a mammogram quickly is not a plus, when half the people in the country must skip because they cannot afford it. (My friend’s company stopped paying for mammograms three years ago — nearly $500 to get one.)

          Our system is not perfect. But I have had quite a bit of interaction with it over the past 10 years, and my experience has been far more positive than negative. I have had two incidents like yours, both with doctors, but I do not believe the system had anything to do with it.

          One of the worst human beings I have met in my life was a successful surgeon in Indianapolis. There is no way that man has not insulted or degraded people in that system. It would defy belief.

          We need better service, for sure. But to compare our service, available to every last one of us, rich, poor, wildly successful or indigent, to the service that is available to only the richest, luckiest, best-covered people in the US is like comparing a Honda Accord to a top-of-the-line Mercedes, and being mad at the Accord when it doesn’t have all the features. Just not a fair comparison.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Cathy. I completely agree with your assessment of our healthcare system as well as those abroad, as I, too, have experienced healthcare in Hawaii, ND, Cuba, Mexico, and have always been treated with care, respect, and compassion.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…where is the care in healthcare?My Profile

  39. Tim says:

    Sorry to hear that Doreen. Let me assure you though that these things happen in a paid system as well even though that is of little comfort. I have never had this exact thing happen to me but I do have a story that might make you laugh. A few years ago in Chicago I was biking alongside the lake. A woman and her child walked in front of me and I careened off the path and down bank of concrete. I broke my right arm in two places. The EMS girl did not think it was a break; just a dislocation. So she tried to bang it back into place. Ouch! Next I was at the hospital ER. Waiting, waiting…6 hours. My arm was swollen and in a sling from triage. The doctor came out and read my name from his clipboard. Then looked me straight in the eye and asked which arm was the problem. THE ONE IN THE SLING!!! Oy!
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    • Thanks for your comment, Tim. Indeed, it no doubt is true that unfortunate situations happen in the paid medical system. I just got the feeling, though, that this very young woman had been thru some form of training that told her she didn’t have to take abuse from patients or their family members. She forgot the part where they told here that she should do everything in her power to be kind and caring to try and ease the stress and pain of the patient and their loved ones.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…where is the care in healthcare?My Profile

  40. Most of the experiences I’ve had with nursing staff (both my own and when my parents were ill) have been positive and I sincerely hope this is an isolated incident. Time in hospital is stressful and the attitude of the nursing staff makes a big difference to patients and their families.
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  41. Doreen, you know we went though harrowing experiences during my husband’s stay in hospital prior to his death. I wrote about on a few of them before I lost the energy and he started sliding backward. If you’re interested feel free to read the Hospital Diaries on my blog: http://suzanneboles.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/hospital-diaries-1/- there are 5 posts.

    You may find this one helpful: http://suzanneboles.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/hospital-diaries-part-2/ . This is when I found out that the hospital had a “patient relations specialist,” (just by chance no one tells you this). It turned out to be someone I knew. She met with us and pulled together a meeting with family and doctors, nurses, social workers – anyone involved with my husband’s case. Our concerns were addressed. Perhaps there is someone in the hospital there who has a similar role?

    Despite this he was in and out of hospital for months and we never knew what we would encounter. We had many bad situations but also good ones. But you don’t expect to get the backlash that sometimes happens because these caregivers are run off their feet and have twice as many patients per nurse as they used to due to medical system cutbacks.

    I feel for you. Just reading this and then responding. It brings back a flood of memories I’ve been repressing. I hope that the rest of the hospital stay is easier and that you can both get home soon.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Suzanne. Yes, I recall your posts, and know from speaking with you the difficulties you had gone thru. That’s why I’d asked you to participate in the conversation, and am grateful that you shared your links that all could read and learn from. Reg is home from the hospital now, but they haven’t addressed his symptoms yet, and we were told today that he wouldn’t be seeing the specialist again until Sept. He is on his back 23 hours/day as laying down alleviates the pain. It irks me to think we will have to wait 2 more months to take another baby step in helping him.
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