Why are Some Patient Advocates So Angry?
You see them on Facebook and Twitter. They rant and rant, and rant some more. Post after post literally screaming about the evils of healthcare (as well as med-mal insurance companies and defense lawyers). These folks are not interested in fixing healthcare....they would blow up healthcare with a bomb if they could. "We hate healthcare" could be a slogan or rallying cry for this bunch. Why all the anger?
To be fair, some of these people are suffering from mental illness or other afflictions. However, when you really get to know some of these advocates you learn they had perfectly normal lives prior to an adverse medical event. They had careers, families, hobbies, and so on, then the train wreck came and life has never been the same since.
Well, Doug, why can't these folks just move on, and let it go? Things happens, you know...that's life!
Some people have the capacity to either "let it go" or turn the negative inside out and bring a lot of positive in the world. We all know prominent patient advocates who were able to harness the negative in their lives and do wonderful work. But these are the rare exceptions. Thanks to social media, we know far many more people who are in the other camp with all the anger, hate, and vitriol. It's especially tough for those for who are dealing with a crippling injury (either to themselves or a loved one). When they awake every morning they are slapped in the face with the injury, and their emotions continue to cook and stew a little more.
Whenever something bad happens to a person (death, injury, loss of a job or relationship, etc), there is a grieving process. It's the human thing. Intense emotions at the beginning that gradually lessen over time, but can come bumbling up in an instant due to a sound, smell, or something else that brings back hurtful memories. However, most people are able to work through the stages of grief and get to a new normal. Yes, things will never be the same, but they can truly move on with their lives and be happy again. However, when there is a tragic, unexpected death or injury and there are no answers, no accountability, and possibly lies and cover up, then the grieving process can literally be frozen in time for some people. It's especially tough when folks can't even get a lawyer (because there case is not worth enough, or they are not deemed a good, attractive client) or the state medical board won't hear their complaint. Without any justice, these poor souls can never get past the situation and move on because they don't know what happened back at "X." People literally get stuck in the grieving process, the anger accumulates, and may eventually explode. These hapless people drive themselves wild trying to learn what happened, and the anger can consume them and destroy their relationships with spouses, friends, co-workers, etc.
It's horrible (or "harrable" as they say in New York!).
Bad enough someone is hurt by an adverse medical event, but then the patient or their family is literally given a life sentence because a hospital or nursing home doesn't have the ability to empathize, stay connected, run a credible review, and tell the truth (whatever the truth may be) and, if necessary, apologize/admit fault and meet the financial and emotional needs of the patient or family.
I write this post to get you to think....to think about what a patient or family will experience if you don't disclose. Think about this post the next time you hear an attorney counsel you to stay quiet post-event. Think about it the next time your CFO says "we don't have the time or money to train our staff on disclosure." Think about this column the next time you see an angry, unhinged patient or family on Facebook. Are they "crazy" (as many flippantly say) or is their behavior a perfectly normal response to a cover up?