Doctors: At What Point Do They Stop Caring?

When you or a family member are ill, have you ever wondered if your doctor actually cares about you or your illness? Have you ever walked out of your physician’s office and thought “that was pointless?” Have you ever spent endless hours in the emergency department waiting room, just to be told that you have a cold or flu that will eventually cure itself? I know this topic might start a shit-storm among my readers. I know there is a huge sensitivity to a country or province’s health care system. However, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, as am I. So, what I’m about to say next might upset some people, but I am entitled to voice my concern and anger, especially when my child’s health is put at risk.

The Ontario Healthcare system is failing me daily. My opinion of OHIP and why Ontario is such an awesome place to live is changing every time I have to deal with this healthcare system and the workers employed by it. With the events that have unfolded over the past 3 months or so, I need to ask the question: At what point do doctors stop caring for their patients because they’ve seen far too many with similar symptoms? I know the Ontario Healthcare system workers are over-worked. I know the ratio of patients to doctors is depressingly high. I know that our hospitals are outdated and financially impaired. But at what point is it okay for a doctor to stop caring for their patients, that they just classify most of them with a common cold/flu because it’s the season for colds and flues?

My Ni has been sick since October 28th, 2013. That was the first time we took her to Scarborough General Hospital with a 102°C temperature. Although my child was screaming and crying and just under a year old, she wasn’t given any priority to be seen before other patients. I know; I get it; there are patients with more serious symptoms that need to be addressed. But there were also patients there with a common cold or an 80 year old who had a headache. Fine, let’s just forget about the priority system for the sake of this post. But what about the actual nurses and doctors coming to assess you or your family member, let’s discuss them.

I’ll start with the nurses. They come in, check the temperature, ears, nose and throat and automatically your family member is classified with a cold or “viral infection.” You’re told they’ll probably be put on a round of antibiotics and if it’s a child with a temperature, they’ll even get a dose of Tylenol or Advil to bring the temperature down. No other tests are done and they’ve given their feedback to the doctor on site. By the time the doctor actually has time to come see you (in this case my child), her fever was gone thanks to the almighty Tylenol. So, my child is feeling better and is active again and babbling and playing around because she’s no longer feeling like absolute shit. Looking at this, the doctors come to the conclusion that it was just a viral infection and “we should monitor it and if she’s fine after 24 hours then nothing further needs to be done”.

But what if she’s not better? What if she continues to get sick, periodically every 5-10 days with a 101+°C temperature that lasts for just over 24 hours and resolves itself? What if she keeps waking up crying in the middle of night; which is highly unusual for her, since she’s always been a perfect sleeper? What if we keep going back to the physician’s office and emergency department, just to be told that my child has a “viral infection” that will resolve itself but never does? What if that viral infection turns into an ear infection in one ear, fluid buildup in the other and the beginning of what looks like pneumonia in her lower left lung?

Yet, when I go back to the hospital, now the 6th time, and tell them this keeps happening and the nurse that comes in to assess her immediately tells me that “we have to bring her temperature down, so we’re going to give her a dose of Tylenol, this will insure she doesn’t end up having a seizure”. This time though, I am on a mission: Until I know what is wrong with my child, no one will administer any medication in her.

This time, I am firm; even I’m called a “rude bitch with an attitude problem” as one nurse was overheard saying. This time, they’ll do the tests I ask for; they’ll take her blood even though it’ll shatter me seeing needles and an IV put into my little angel’s arm and will cause her god-knows how much pain. They’ll take her urine sample, even though the stupid plastic bag they’ve put between her legs will leak the minute it fills up and she’ll end up peeing all over herself and me. They’ll do the chest x-ray even though it’ll be one of the most terrifying experiences for her being caged into a plastic cast with her arms wailing out as she screams and cries her heart out trying to escape. Yes, this time I am adamant that they will not let my child leave the hospital without a diagnosis of something more than a viral infection.

After all said and done, diagnoses being pneumonia and an ear infection, I can’t help but wonder why it took over 3 months for my child to be diagnosed? It scares me that over the past 3 months, she’s been on 3 different antibiotics and has gone through over 7 bottles of infant’s Tylenol. It upsets me that my beautiful angel is starting to look frail, weak and skinnier day-by-day because mommy doesn’t know how to make whatever is going on in her body go away. It pisses me off that besides the overly caring registration person at the front desk of the hospital, no one gave a damn that I had been there 6 times in under 3 months for a child with a recurring temperature of 101°C or higher each time. It drives me crazy that, after telling him and the first nurse this reoccurring scenario, I had to explain everything all over again 4 more times before I eventually snapped.

Have the doctors and nurses just stopped caring about the depth of a person’s illnesses? When I ask, “at what point do they stop caring?” I don’t mean caring as a human-being would or common courtesy. I mean, at what point do they stop caring about looking deeper into a patient’s medical history or ruling out other illnesses?

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