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Nurses' attitude -- prevalent?


MomtoGiuliana
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My sister is an attorney but is taking a class in epidemiology at her local university out of interest. All of the other students are nurses. She has heard numerous discussions among them, informally and in class, regarding patient care, of course. In particular, she told me that there have been several discussions about the large number of female patients coming into the ER or to their physician complaining about symptoms "that don't exist" and that this large number of women are attention seekers with no illness. Their enablers come in the form of husbands and family members.

Why would so many women put time and energy going to doctors, making up symptoms? Why do these nurses think this? How many patients with dysautonomia have these nurses seen and dismissed along with doctors? Is this a prevalent attitude among nurses--that there is a large contigent of women out there making up symptoms to get attention--and how can this change, if so?!

Anyway, my sister's description was very aggravating to me, and just another example to me of all the work we have to do (since no one else seems to be) to educate medical caregivers on this illness.

I think I am going to give her handouts on dysautonomia to give to them all before the end of the semester!

Katherine

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Katherine,

I think that's a great suggestion.

When you don't fit in the profile your send home but since there is no profile on dysautonomia in the ER or at doctors offices (yet) we have a very hard time getting a diagnoses and to be treated with respect. I myself was very lucky to be diagnosed in a reasonable time, but I'm very concerned about people who do have all this trouble and who are send off by the nurses. Like you, I can't understand why they think we have nothing else to do than bother them with making up symptoms that wouldn't excist. Don't they understand that we would love to live our lives like anyone else? Anyway when I'm in a waitingroom at one of my doctors and people ask me why I'm in a wheelchair I always tell them what's going on with me and try to explain what dysautonomia is like. I found out that most people are interested because they have never heard of it. So, let's spread the word!!!

Corina

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I applaud both of you for your enthusiasm.

But, nurses are an important part of your visit. If they think you?re a drug seeker or wacko psych case then that?s what they convey to the doctor before you?re ever seen. Then you?re starting 3 steps behind when you do meet the doctor.

So yes we definitely need to educate the world about this. Back to trying to be recognized by prime time television news show.

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Katherine,

I think it is a great idea to give literature to these nurses. It's sad and disturbing that female nurses would have such negative stereotypes about female patients. Increasing awareness about POTS can only help.

As soon as I can muster some energy, I am going to write a letter to the ERs where I went when I first developed POTS, to inform them that I did not get the help I needed and send them information about POTS for future patients. Of course this info may get lost in hospital bureaucracy, but I figure it is at least worth a try....

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OK, I'll try to post again.

I was just going to add that I don't think it's just nurses, I think it's the medical community as a whole who treat women like we are histrionic idiots.

They always say that doctors like it when patients come in with questions and are part of our treatment but I find the opposite to be true. The more info I come in with the more they seem irritated and not willing to listen.

Hearing what patients have to say and really listening to patients concerns are things that the medical community really needs to improve on.

I have had too many medical problems that have been overlooked or minimized by a Dr who thought it was either "in my head" or just nothing. Only to have another doctor finally pick up on it.

GayleP

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Hi,

I agree that this attitude is generalized in the medical community. Most of the time I go to University Hospital and the first person who sees me is a resident. So this person has no degree whatsoever and his doing my medical history. What the person gets from what I tell them (as you know we have weird symptoms) is what the specialist will consider. I think it is pretty bad since I have a rare disorder and it is not tought in med school so having a med student doing the screening is quit scary.

Ernie

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I think that the only answer is education and time. The problems are prevasive, at all levels of medical services.

Nina

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Ernie

I'm not sure about the Canadian system but you can always refuse or insist on having a doctor only, that is your right here in the U.S.

Katherine

Just a tip -

You can contact the Emergency Room ahead of time and ask who saw you on your previous visits and who is chief doctor in the department. You can also ask which doctor follows up on patient complaints. The doctor's normally handle their own affairs.

The medical community needs education from us too! Things are changing drastically in the medical field and they are willing to learn, most of them anyway. I guess if we want anything to change it will be our job to educate them.

I know that our ER sees so many bogus complaints that sometimes it's hard to sort out who is what and the nurses and doctor's do jump to conclussions. The nurses more often then the docs, usually. But if you had something in hand about your illness they would be very likely to listen to you and read what you had.

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I think in addition to the hypochondriacs, there are a lot of people that seek medical help (whether it's going to the ER or just to the doctor) because they're having strange symptoms. For those of us who aren't medical professionals, we have no way of knowing whether these symptoms are serious or not. (And personally I think it's better to have something checked out sooner rather than later.) I would bet that more women than men go to the ER and to the doctor, because our society puts pressure on men to tough things out. This may feed into the stereotype that women are hypochondriacs. We have a lot of nurses on the board, so I would be interested in their thoughts.

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As a nurse, I was taught that CFS and Fibro didn't really exist. But I did a lot of reading on my own and knew it did - even if, in the early 90's the cause wasn't known. I have many times heard my co-workers make comments and roll their eyes about patients who had these disorders. Unfortunately, these opinions are further disseminated by doctors who don't want to bother with illnesses they don't understand and can't make a quick diagnosis/cure for. The things they don't understand they won't bother with - it cuts down their "God complex". I worked for an insurance company that DID recognize all of these disorders; but they were very insistant that all of us nurses keep up on the latest studies on all of these disorders. So, as usual, some good and some bad...

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To add to DawgTired

Yes, the staff (Nurses and Doctor's) where I work still roll their eyes at the words Fibromyalgia and CFS. It ticks me off and I know to never use either word when referring to myself.

Recently one of the doctors in our department told me that neither existed and challenged me to prove CFS. He wanted me to give him documentation proving CFS. Well, I've tried to prove it but anyone that's researched this topic will tell you that they don't have a true source, even though they are close on the M.E. theory.

I've also been told by several people that Kaiser will not diagnosis you with either of those two things and they also don't believe in POTS, at least out here on the West Coast. And no, I don't work for that medical company.

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Briarrose,

Do you have Kaiser also? If so, sorry about that.

Most docs at Kaiser have no clue about dysautonomia and most likely not about CFS either. I have lots of Kaiser horror stories about trying to get a diagnosis but don't want to bore anyone.

Before I went to Mayo I ended up going to a CFS specialist outside of Kasier who diagnosed me with POTS. Mayo gave me a diagnosis of dysautonomia, not POTS, but I was very greatful to that non Kaiser doc who at least knew my ANS was messed up. I finally found a cardiologist at Kaiser who understands dysautonomia, at least more than most.

Kaiser is fine for comon disorders but if you have any unusual health problems they just don't get how to think out side the box. They can't see the big picture.

GayleP

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Thanks Briarose for the advice. I will check it out. I also appreciate your comment on "God Complex". I run into many of those God's.

Lately I am finding a few humble doctors who are a bit interested in treating me. But they don't have the guts that Dr Grubb has to try new medication. They only limit themselves to what is the usual treatment: BB, midodrine, Florinef and salt.

Ernie

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Vandy diagnosed my CFS. My PCP diagnosed my Fibro. NCS diagnosis came from my first EP, she did a TTT to show me that I had nothing wrong with me and it was all in my head. She actually told me that I was a princess on a pea. I am gone from that group now and I am happy with my doctors... But what a pain to find them.

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Ernie, all teaching hospitals are different BUT I was at Hopkins and really pleased to find out the nurse did nothing more than take my weight, height, bp, and pulse and take me to a room with no comment. The doctor did ALL of the background etc. which does make a difference.

I have gone so far as to tell the nurse I do not wish to go over my history and symptoms with them because what I have is rare and it is best to go over with the doctor BUT if they would like to be present for some of that it is fine with me. I was in an ER over the summer and the nurse tried to tell me I needed something and we sat there and said NO, she stomped off to get the doctor, who told her I was correct. It might make them angry but you have to stand up for your health even when it makes them angry.

I've gone from a so called nutty female with nothing wrong with them to a so called nutty female with a dysautonomia. What they aren't able to cover in one category of being a female they blame on the other etc. SOOOOO Tired of it!

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Ooohh I haven't been here in a long time and thought I'd pop in and see what is going on since I'm having a "dizzy" day...feel very icky like every month after my period (sorry if too much information!).

But seeing this post really hits a spot with me! The nurses when I was in the hospital treated me really jerky and I have almost zero respect for most I've met.

The thing is, I have 2 sisters who are both nurses and they at least to me do not seem like the general population of nurses out there but maybe because they have suffered some stuff in their life and therefore have compassion. I think suffering breeds compassion for others which may be a good thing that can come from it I suppose...just a thought.

But anyway, I have a girlfriend that I used to be very close to..we grew up together, etc. I haven't talked to her in some years and has recently been in touch and she is now a nurse so a frequent topic of conversation for her on the telephone is to talk about her day at work and complain about all of her patients and insult them in various ways which is very offensive to me and gets me upset.

I usually end up getting upset and remembering last year when I was at my worst and in the hospital and all the ways I was treated and she has confirmed that I was labeled because she knows "how nurses are" but says "why are you upset about this today?" Duh, because you are a horrible nurse just like them and listening to you makes me upset that people like you are nursing? I know that sounds harsh but some people are just not cut out to be in the healthcare field but are solely there for the money end of it and not because they give a flying hoot about people who are ill. If you ask me, only the old and babies (or a man) get respect and good care at a hospital (if you are lucky) and if you are in between somewhere in age (especially female) you better be near death or else you are just going to be something for the nurses to complain about or make fun of at the nurse's station...it's a sick mentality really and all too prevalent.

Just thought I'd blow off some steam on that one!

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Jackie

Are you kidding? The elderly get treated the worst, especially if they have major health issues or are demented. You would not believe how many horrible nicknames I've heard for them. I get tired of hearing, it's just time for them to die.

But I totally agree with you about them being it for the money. I have asked some of our nurses, after listening to them complain and complain, why are you in nursing? They say because of the money, flexibility to travel anywhere in the world and get paid for it and it's a respectable profession so guys are attracted to you. The last reason, I've only heard a few times but it still makes me sick.

How long before you think they get burned out in their job. Have you heard the phrase, "money isn't everything."

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