Friday, January 16, 2009

Rudeness = Discrimination?

Not in my book, it doesn't.

But apparently Ken Saunders disagrees.
Ken Saunders decided to leave the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre on Dec. 30 rather than remain a patient after he said a nurse on the neurological unit where he was being trans­ferred made an insensitive com­ment. Three other patients in the unit were women.

The nurse allegedly said, “You shouldn’t mind. You’re a gay male."

Jack Waller, Mr. Saunders’ common-law partner of eight years, took him to the emergency department on the advice of their family doctor after Mr. Saunders had a series of mini­strokes.

After being admitted to a bed on Dec. 29, Mr. Saunders, 52, left the following day without getting the CT scan and angio­plasty he had been waiting for, Mr. Waller said.

Sound a little over the top to you? Maybe just a little bit of an over-reaction?

But wait. There's more.
Mr. Waller, 70, said Mr. Saun­ders got good care and respect in the emergency department. But they were also unhappy with a nurse on the cardiovascular in­patient unit where Mr. Saunders was first admitted.

The nurse allegedly repeated­ly referred to Mr. Waller as his “friend," even after Mr. Saun­ders had told her several times that Mr. Waller was his husband. The couple contacted health authority CEO Chris Power’s of­fice with their concerns and also spoke to a patient representative.
Oh, yeah. Sure. Now that's heavy hitting.

And like denying yourself the required medical care wasn't good enough (talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face), our "friends" started, but then apparently abandoned, the patient complaint process at the hospital and went on to fil­e a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

Yup, that's right. Another human rights complaint.

Listen up, boys. It goes something like this.

I have had a lot of experience with the Nova Scotia health care system. Way more than I ever would have wished for. And I have been treated rudely and unprofessionally on various occasions. By both doctors and nurses.

In fact, after one nurse implied that I was fabricating the 'story' of my daughter's seizures ("Oh no, not that I'm saying you did that, dear. You would have to be crazy to do that") following our return to the ER on the very same day of the Blue Jay's discharge (from the same damn hospital) following a week-long hospitalization for ... wait for it ... seizures, I was more than ready to register a complaint with the hospital.

Months later, that same nurse made rude comments concerning my husband, whom she wrongly assumed was drunk, after he was taken by ambulance to that same ER following a day of severe vomiting and falling. Turns out he had a severe inner ear infection and needed to stay in the hospital overnight for IV fluids and anti-nausea meds. Oops.

Then there was the doctor (same ER, hmm, could I possibly be seeing a pattern here?) who refused to admit the Blue Jay, despite my repeated protests that this was the protocol and what we and her doctors had learned needed to be done) after giving her a medication which he had knocked her out cold and he admitted he had no experience with. Forcing me to carry the dead-weight child out to the car so we could go to our family doctor's office and get the poor girl admitted. As she needed to be.

It wasn't until years later, that I realized that not only was this guy a jerk but also potentially liable for medical malpractice. After a long day of having been admitted but still waiting for a bed to become available, I asked the kid's pediatrician if I could just take her home for the night. And bring her back if when we needed to. I was told that I could only do that if willing to sign a release. Apparently the med she had been given (the very same med given by the jerk doc above) could cause respiratory arrest. Hence, a good reason to have the child monitored by medical types.

Believe me, I could go on.

Of course, I have had wonderful experiences with doctors and nurses, too. People who have touched our lives in ways I will never forget. But that is not the point.

The point is that rude and insensitive remarks do not constitute discrimination. They are simply rude and insensitive remarks. Period. Full stop.

So if Mr. Saunders and his friend partner (sorry, guys, but you're not getting the word 'husband' out of me; you will have to acquire a marriage certificate first) feel they were badly treated and want to complain to the hospital, more power to them, says I. Heaven knows, there were times when I definitely should have.

But stay away from the Human Rights Commission. I happen to be a fan of such institutions, you see. Provided that everyone remembers that the point is to deal with incidents of discrimination. Not rudeness. Not comments that you just don't appreciate.

Or perhaps I am missing something. Perhaps you really do have a right not to be spoken rudely to or not to hear comments you don't like. Perhaps it is discrimination when it happens to you. Just because you're gay.

My daughter and I, on the other hand, have no such rights, do we?

Would you mind explaining that to me one more time? I promise to listen real close ...

1 comment:

neardem said...

Dear Michele,
I agree with the difference you make between discrimination and simple rudeness. Not that any of us condone rudeness, but it is nowhere near being as bad as discrimination.