This Viral Video Shows What Doctors Need to Understand About Long Wait Times
Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Paige Wyant, The Mighty’s associate chronic illness editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.
A woman from Florida named Jessica Stipe posted a video on Monday of the treatment she received from a doctor after calmly expressing her frustration at having to wait over an hour while sick and throwing up in pain. Though she made the appointment for 6:30, by 7:45 all the staff had done was take a urine sample. The video has been viewed more than 400,000 times.
I'm severely sick and came to Gainesville after hours with a 6:30 appointment . By 7:45 was not seen still in severe pain and throwing up in the trash can . All they had me do was pee in a cup to see if I'm pregnant …. ummm I know I'm not … I asked for my co pay back so I could leave and go back home to bed and try to be seen elsewhere tomorrow because I'm just that miserable that all I want is my bed . The Dr was mad I wanted my co pay back and was unhappy with having to wait so long and proceeded to cuss me out . My daughter recorded it because they were so rude . When he saw it was being recorded he snatched my baby's phone and shoved her when she tried to get it back . Gpd is here now but says we can't press assault charges even though it's all on tape because she has no injury .. wtf .. he took her phone and shoved her she is a minor …. never go there for medical care .* for licensing and usage please contact: email@example.com
تم نشره بواسطة Jessica Stipe في 9 أكتوبر، 2017
Stipe’s Facebook post read:
“I’m severely sick and came to Gainesville after hours with a 6:30 appointment . By 7:45 was not seen still in severe pain and throwing up in the trash can . All they had me do was pee in a cup to see if I’m pregnant …. ummm I know I’m not … I asked for my co pay back so I could leave and go back home to bed and try to be seen elsewhere tomorrow because I’m just that miserable that all I want is my bed . The Dr was mad I wanted my co pay back and was unhappy with having to wait so long and proceeded to cuss me out . My daughter recorded it because they were so rude . When he saw it was being recorded he snatched my baby’s phone and shoved her when she tried to get it back . Gpd is here now but says we can’t press assault charges even though it’s all on tape because she has no injury .. wtf .. he took her phone and shoved her she is a minor …. never go there for medical care.”
The doctor, Peter Gallogly, has since written a statement defending himself, claiming he makes no excuses for his behavior, but that Stipes had been “increasingly belligerent and abusive” towards his staff.
We can’t see what happened before the camera started rolling, but regardless, I was shocked and saddened by Gallogly’s behavior in the video. Stipe’s frustration with the wait time is a feeling I – and I’m sure many others with chronic illness – can relate to all too well. And it’s something I wish more doctors understood.
When I make an appointment at an after-hours clinic (like Stipe did) or go to a 24-hour emergency room as a chronic illness patient, it’s because I feel like absolute hell and cannot bear another second of whatever agony my body has decided to gift me with at that moment. I feel pretty awful most days in general, so my friends and family know that when I say I need to get to Urgent Care stat, something must be seriously wrong.
Sitting in an uncomfortable chair under the harsh lights of a bland waiting room is not fun for anyone – but when all hell seems to have broken loose in your body, every ounce of that discomfort is amplified and a single second can feel like an eternity. If I am willing to leave the dark, cool comfort of my bed where I have all my supplies at hand and endure the process of getting dressed, driving to the doctor’s office, sitting in the waiting room, speaking with people, etc., I must really be in a bad place.
So I can empathize with how miserable Stipe must have felt after sitting around for over an hour. I totally understand the feeling of just wanting to go home, even if you’re not leaving with any answers, just so you don’t have to sit around in an uncomfortable environment a minute longer. I get it. But clearly this doctor did not.
Doctors (and other medical professionals) are supposed to help their patients. In an ideal world, they would all be compassionate, listen to us, believe us, do whatever it takes to help us feel even marginally better.
That’s not what this doctor did.
In the video, Stipe tries to calmly and politely explain her situation – only to be met with rage from the doctor as he yells at her to “get the f*** out of my office.” Then, when he sees that Stipe’s daughter is recording, he lunges at her, grabs her phone out of her hands, and walks away with it.
I understand if there are long wait times at an office – especially if it’s a clinic that accepts walk-ins and emergencies. I understand if the staff is spread thin and managing more patients than they should. I’m certainly not happy about it (you better believe I was fuming after waiting nearly three hours to simply get my blood drawn yesterday), but I understand. It’s indicative of the larger, complex issues with our overburdened healthcare system that probably won’t be solved anytime soon.
In the meantime, what both patients and medical professionals can do is simply be respectful and do our best understand the other’s situation.
For us patients, I don’t want to suggest that we should be accepting of ridiculous wait times while we sit around in agony. We just need to channel our frustration into something constructive that will result in positive change.
On the flip side, doctors need to realize that the people sitting in waiting rooms aren’t just names on a list for them to check off. They are real people, and they wouldn’t have come to the doctor if they weren’t struggling with a serious issue. When they express frustration with the wait time, like Stipe did, it doesn’t mean they’re “impatient” – it just means they’re tired, sick, and want relief, even if that means going home.
The doctor in the video may be stressed and overwhelmed with the number of patients he is trying to serve, but that doesn’t make it OK for him to react the way he did. He doesn’t attempt to sympathize or try to understand where this woman is coming from. He is angry and defensive – everything a doctor shouldn’t be.
Although I am outraged by this doctor’s actions, as I’m sure others are as well, I hope this video can ultimately serve as a reminder of how important it for medical professionals and patients to treat each other with kindness and respect. Everyone deserves that. As those of us with chronic illness know, a little understanding and empathy can go a long way.