Getting the Job Done vs. Compassion

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I have written on medical ethics, patient care, and general compassion before. I am one of the first to realise and acknowledge that most health care professionals are dedicated, and want positive outcomes for those under their care.  I am also aware that ALL health care workers are human beings, and have bad days, long shifts, and personal problems of their own.  That said, their is still an issue in patient care with compassion.

We have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the last few years. In that time the medical file has become replete with notices and warnings about anxiety issues, and fatigue from the process. Yet on our last two visits in the same department, both with appointments at the end of clinical days, we met with totally different treatment.

I had called in advance on Monday to make sure they were aware of issues, and to verify that measures which had been worked out in procedures over years of trial, error, and compromise would be okay on the day.  All was assured, and the appointment went wonderfully.  The CT technician seeing my wife’s stress (and understanding from her file that I had the authority) allowed me to answer the routine questions of in advance of the scan.  The place was busy, and appointments were running a little behind, but to make the process better, we were taken to a different area and seen sooner to not let the stress to build.  The tech was kind, smiled, and took the notes seriously (even if it did make her job a little more difficult).

On Friday, I rang ahead, was given the assurances, and we arrived on time. We filled in the forms, and she was called. She was after the fatigue of the Monday outing – stressed, but when I began to answer the routine monitoring questions, was cut off.  She had to answer for herself. The stress increased. She became frustrated with having to repeat herself. He leaves. Enter second MRI technician. Routine questions finished, we are then told that measures which had been made in the past will not be available today. In fact, he argued they are never available.  This despite they being used in the same department, same sub-clinic, and same procedure on the two previous visits. He wanted to get in, get it done, with no variation in the smooth running of his schedule.  Patient anxiety, fear, and physical limitations (beyond those of his immediate focus) were irrelevant.  The end result was the cancelling of the appointment, and now more anxiety of ever having to go to hospital again.

I know this is a bit of a rant, but is a smile, and a little patience especially with people clearly in distress too much to ask?