Caregivers Who Don’t Care Or Give

It’s funny how some things just lend themselves to becoming an oxymoron. You know the old jokes about military intelligence, jumbo shrimp and…I better stop. Too silly! 🙂 What is NOT a joke is when you are forced to deal with care givers who don’t care or give. After this last hospital trip to the E.R. I have really started to wonder if there is a solution to this problem. Is there a complaint that can be made? I really don’t think there really is any way for me to complain without experiencing some sort of “pay back” for doing so. Maybe I’m a cynic but I’ve seen videos on YouTube of firefighters letting houses burn because the owner of the house did not pay some fee. Check it out!

Now, I know that there are 2 sides to this story but it is a good example of our new bureaucratic society. You see, they followed the rules and were “just doing their jobs”, right? Here’s the thing, I’m sure that if that same fire happened 50 years ago they would’ve put it out. Why? Because they all would have been neighbors. We no longer live in a nation structured as neighborhoods. We are faceless cogs in the machinery of the healthcare system. That’s why we sign tons of paperwork while laying on the stretcher in the E.R.  (Yup, they made me sign papers  while I was laying there in pain as if I could read them.)

How Do We Turn The Clock Back

You see, if firefighters allowed somebody’s house to burn to the ground over a small fee 50 years ago the community would have shunned those people..and..they may have ended up in jail. How do we go back to that and move away from the people who keep the letter of the law and ignore the spirit of the law? Yes, there are laws but when the law allows you to let somebody suffer legally it does not absolve you from doing so morally!

So, how do we do it? How do we go back to an age when people looked at other people and cared? I know there are those who wish evil on the careless among us. Believe me, I get it. It’s the “They will get theirs” mentality. I can’t say it’s not tempting to go down that road but really it solves nothing and you just harbor negative “energy”. Who needs that?!  I have to say, I don’t go to the other extreme either. Some say that we should pray for them and be kind and hope they will change their ways. I’m all for praying for people but I think more has to be done. Don’t you? I mean, if you see somebody being cruel to somebody do you simply pray for them or step in? I step in. It’s my nature and I think it’s what most people would do as well.

I think we need to simply be true to ourselves and influence whatever we can to move the clock back. Here’s what I’m trying to say. As individuals, we have a certain “sphere” of influence. We can only influence the system within that sphere. I say we make the greatest effort that we can to influence people, corporations, systems, doctors, ambulance drivers and the like to service our needs with more compassion.

Speak Up: If we’re in contact with an ambulance company then we need to speak to the people in charge of our care. If they imply that you are asking for service for reasons that are less than honorable then we need to address that. In other words, we need to say things like “I am NOT a drug user but I AM in pain. If you are able to give me pain medication according to your medical guidelines then I am asking for that.” How presumptuous is it to assume the wost of people you have NO history with. It’s fine to ask pointed questions to diagnose but implying that the patient has ulterior motives is not within their authority and is a sad statement regarding their own moral compass.

Remember, if they’re not planning on giving you medication then you have nothing to lose anyway. If they are behaving poorly you should tell them. Don’t let them off of the hook. Even if you have exhausted your verbal skills try a dirty look because it goes a long way…trust me, I’ve done it. You don’t always have to be nice. I know….it’s our nature….but, it’s time to kick over a few apple carts and get some attention. My motto is to be gracious until gracious doesn’t work.

Respond To Customer Surveys and Polls: The hospital called me at home and asked me to complete a survey over the phone. You know, I almost didn’t. I asked…how long is it. It was 4 minutes so I did. Looking back, I realize that I had the wrong attitude. If the survey is too long ask them to call back. Get involved. It’s our only chance to change things.

Correspond: If the company or hospital or healthcare institution does not offer you a survey then you should correspond with them. A two minute email or letter can do wonders. If they ignore you well….you can either write again or go somewhere else next time. At least you tried.

Be Informed: If you can, research before you participate. If you can make sure your doctor, hospital or healthcare institution is well rated. Find out what the complaints are. If you do go to the institution in question then you might want to print your research out and ask questions while you are there. You might put just enough pressure on them and cause them to treat you better. I hate to say it but the “squeaky wheel” often gets the oil.

Use The Web: Tell them that you will be posting your experiences online and then follow up and do it. You don’t need a fancy blog. Just go to their website and tell what your experience was…especially if it was good. Also, go to message boards that apply to your situation and share your experience. If you’re worried about “pay back” then use a pseudonym. Don’t be hostile just be honest. Your bad experience might help others avoid the same thing. Don’t forget Twitter and Facebook. Many institutions have a web presence that includes these applications. In some cases you can remain anonymous thus avoiding any “pay back” you might fear.

Get Political: Politicians control the laws. You might just want to write your local representatives and tell them about what you experienced. When a politician faces an embarrassment  they often will pass down the pressure to the next level. This may be enough to start the dominoes falling.

Get Personal: Yup, I think that is the key to turning back the clock. You see, if my neighbor was driving that ambulance he would be saying something like “Ed, I know you are in pain but I cannot give you medication because of this XYZ reason.” or “Ed, I know you are in pain and I have something right here that will help.”

So, how do I do this practically you might wonder. When my doctor greets me formally I always laugh and say something like “Mister!  🙂  Ed is good enough for me, I’m not that important.”  I say with a smile. I try as hard as I can to sign every email with my name, my wife’s and my son’s. This way when the read the email they think….”Oh yeah, those guys.”  If you can make friends with your caregiver then you have a better chance of being treated well. Also, I always say thank you, please and I’m courteous… least as much as I can in that circumstance. I try to make a few jokes, wish them a good weekend or holiday or whatever. If they mention a vacation then I inquire about the vacation.

Any other thoughts? Well, please share them so that we might all benefit. 🙂

I hope I my bad experience may have helped you,
Ed – To find out how to use my images on your blog for free – Click Here





  1. I think most of us have endured incredible pain in emergency situations. That is the worst time to expect decent treatment because it is so rarely delivered. I couldn’t begin to list the experiences I’ve had that were similar to yours. My opinion on this is: what can be learned here? Not just for me but for “them” as well. If someone acted truly in error, that needs to be set straight and I do go as far up the chain of command as I can get – to the state and even the national level. Sometimes there is a reason why someone has acted wrongly. If so, there may be a way to change a protocol or instill a lesson. If they were careless or threatened your well-being, someone higher-up needs to know. I’ve never sued anyone but there’s always that first time.

    • It’s crazy isn’t it? I just returned from Cancer Treatment Centers of America (which is a story unto itself) and I received the best and worst of care while I was there.

      Usually the best of care came from the lower echelons of the power structure. The receptionists, the MRI people and such were compassionate and giving but as soon as people started getting titles and careers to worry about and of course the big old pay check….compassion became less of a priority and was replaced by other things like maintaining a reputation, being politically correct and so on. Not in all cases but it seems that money and hubris kill compassion pretty fast.

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