An Open Letter to the Emergency Room Staff
Dear Emergency Room Staff,
After our recent visit, I felt that it was necessary to sit down and reevaluate my experience and my feelings after leaving. Although the ER should be a place where I can come to feel better and bring my children to feel better (literally), I left feeling angry, upset, mistreated, and judged. So that my friends, is the reasoning behind today’s letter. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
When I first entered your facility, I was met by an empty waiting room. Lucky us, I thought. This never happens and it surely won’t take as long as it usually does. So I approached the desk with high spirits, despite the two year old with a high fever in my arms.
“What’s your emergency?” I was asked. I began telling you my son’s symptoms and history and you rudely cut me off and asked when his last dose of Tylenol was. I responded that it was fifteen minutes prior to us arriving, and you snapped back “oh, so you didn’t even give it time to kick in before coming here?”. I explained that he had been to the doctor earlier in the week and that we felt it was necessary to bring him.
My husband walked over to answer a question and you rudely snapped back at him not to leave our baby unattended. Mam, the waiting room was empty and he was going right back. There was no need for the tone in your voice or your quickness to judge. He went back, as did we to wait for the doctor.
We were called back by a nurse, who asked me the same questions and I told her the same answers. She also made me feel like an idiot for bringing my sick son to the ER, instead of medicating him at home and waiting for the medicine to “do it’s job.” I understand you see people come in all the time who necessarily don’t need to be there, but it’s not YOUR job to tell me or anyone else that. We felt that it was enough of an emergency to bring ourselves or our children in, so please knock it with your attitude and put a smile on your face while helping me.
We then went back to the waiting room and waited to go back to see the doctor. When we finally went back, we were asked the same set of questions in a “why are you even here?” tone and seated in a little triage room. The doctor came in and asked me what he could do for me. I again, explained why we were there and what was going on. The next few questions baffled me:
“Did you call his doctor?”
Um, yes, as I explained to the last three people, he went to the doctor on Tuesday and clearly, was still having some issues.
“What is wrong with him?”
Well doc, I think that’s why we are here. We don’t know what is wrong with him and I would like you to examine him and tell me.
You wrote me a script for some meds while shrugging your shoulders as if that was the only answer you had for me. You didn’t tell me what was wrong and you told me to follow up with my son’s doctor.
Great. Thanks for your…help…and kindness…
I’m not a doctor, and clearly, that’s why we were there. But I am a person, and I am a mother, and I feel completely disrespected. Just because my son wasn’t bleeding from his head or missing a limb, he was still sick and still deserved to be seen with the same level of respect as someone who needed your attention to save their life.
However “trivial” you think my son’s illness may be or how silly you may think it was I brought him in, you still are there to do your job and help me however you can. I know your hours are long and you deal with bullshit on the reg, but that’s not my fault and I deserved to be treated better than I was.
Whether or not you think it, which I really don’t care, I feel that I was a good mother bringing my son in to be better safe than sorry. You think I wanted to wake up at 3:30 am and pack up my toddler and infant to come to a germ infested facility? Absolutely not. But clearly I felt that it was necessary and that alone should tell you I’m concerned. The least you could do is act like it too.
A patient’s angry mother
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