10 minutes.

We had been called to a meat skewer lodged in someone’s throat. We found on scene an autistic schizophrenic with a long history history of using medical services without any diagnosis or result. He sat and chain smoked, whilst we assessed him in a small dirty housing commission flat. He ranted, but my partner listened.

They say a key way to define a society, is to observe the way it treats its poor.

As healthcare workers, we provide care to all people. Regardless of their status. Unfortunately though, it is often those in the most precarious or low situations that require the greatest and most frequent treatment.

Poor financially, but also intellectually, emotionally, socially and often in wisdom.

These patients get lots of names. Gomer, frequent flyer, bed filler (feel free to add your favourites in the comments section).

They usually also come with lots of problems. Not just complex physical and mental health. But throw in being rude, impatient and smelling bad for starters. They often abuse healthcare staff, other patients or family members and rarely adhere to treatment regimes. Frequently selfish, they misuse resources, create stress and are a huge drain on the system. They’re also renowned for suing or making complaints.

I will admit being skeptical, cynical and frustrated only days ago at a mental health patient. Getting internally infuriated by another patient who wasn’t taking their medications, hadn’t cared for themselves for decades and now complained that we were incompetent because we couldn’t make them better.

But to our society’s credit, we do offer these patient’s care. And we should.

Have you ever considered the reason these patients act negatively towards healthcare staff….. is because we act negatively towards them.

If you were concerned about your health and didn’t know better, and the people you called to help were jerks how would you react? When people treat you like an idiot, or cut you off mid sentence?

As I’ve written before, we shouldn’t put up with rubbish. But by spending an extra 10 minutes listening to that patient , he had a good experience. We got him booked into his GP and he didn’t require transport.

A lot of these patients have been so abused by healthcare providers that they immediately assume we’ll be tools.

Prove them wrong.

People rarely make complaints or sue the people who are nice to them. Patients are more likely to listen when you refer them onwards if they like you.

What’s your approach?

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