For most people with choric health problems, especially those in chronic pain, the thought of seeing another doctor sends chills up and down their spine. Not because of fear of getting better. Oh no. But for the fear of being mistreated or even harassed by a doctor that has taken an oath of first and foremost doing no harm.
The stories that chronic illness patients share are horrifying and alarming. These people indeed suffer much at the hands of doctors. In some cases, what the doctors have done is just downright wrong.
As a patient, what can I do to protect myself? What can I do to stand firm for my healthcare, my treatments, and essentially myself?
Get an advocate and get a backbone. Plain and simple. These are two of the greatest things that a patient with a chronic illness can ever possess. If there is a doctor that is balking at your case, refusing researched treatment options for illogical reasons, or treating you like you are a well, painful case to them- drop them.
As quickly as you can.
As patients, you and I have the right to treatment with dignity like any other person. Like any other patient. Just because it might be a rare case, an unusual case, or a hard case, does not change our rights. These rights to not diminish with the onset of disease. They do not die down when a person gets worse. We have the right to dignity.
Often times, the patient is so terribly sick that the last thing they want to do is to stand up and fight for their rights. The last thing they have the energy for is to refuse the ill treatment of a doctor and search for a new one. With eyes down casted they walk out of the doctor’s office with nothing left but feelings of rejection, being a burden, and at the worst, hopelessness.
That is why the caregiver/advocates role is so crucially important. Advocates for the patient are desperately needed to lift the person’s spirits and assure the person that there will be a doctor that is willing to help! Advocates stand firm for the patient, for the wellbeing both physically and emotionally.
Respect should be given to doctors who refer cases out because it is not in there specialty, read the research, take on hard cases, or just plainly say that they have no experience in said condition but will help when other needs arise. The largest trophy that is able to be made should be placed in their medical offices or in the very least a lovely thank you card from their ah um unique case to don their walls with love.
Let’s face it, on a chronic illness patient’s life they will face a bad doctor. The odds are stacked in that favor (seeing 20+ doctors tends to do that to you…) If a doctor gives you the run around or complains to you about the sheer difficulty that YOU are on their life or practice- you have the right to leave. You have every right to humane treatment. Every right to a caring doctor. Every right to the practice of first do no harm.
You have every right to be human.
(For more information about patient’s rights, especially when if comes to chronic pain, please see this informative article from RSDSA.)
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