Patient waiting on medical bench, doctor standing in front of her (facing away)- giving patient a look of distain

Getting Disrespect from Medical Staff for Hep C

It’s nearly impossible to get medical care without feeling judgment about hepatitis C. You get used to it, but when you don’t feel good and need help, you expect professionals to show some decency and respect.

Signs you are getting disrespect

Being Ignored

While waiting to be seen, I keep an eye on the clock. I know that some patients have life-threatening problems...I still expect proper and fair treatment.


If a medical worker knows that I have hep C and gives a raised eyebrow or asks smarty pants questions, it hurts. It doesn’t matter how we got HCV. If they ask, I simply tell them it’s not their business, or that no one can be sure. Then I STARE at them with a slight smile.

Poor Care

If you believe that you are not receiving services or are being avoided because of your diagnosis, say so. While on treatment, I always asked, very politely, about labs and procedures. I insisted on talking with a doctor until I felt heard. It takes courage to stand up for yourself.

Blood Scare

When the lab tech won’t look you in the eye, it hurts. Medical professionals have gone through training and know how to protect themselves. Acting like they don’t want to touch you is plain mean.

Two ways to handle disrespect

Engage the medical staff

Begin the encounter by asking questions about their day, their family, or their education. Without going into a lot of personal chatter, try to connect from your own experience. For example, if a nurse says she’s been doing this for 8 years, thank her. Tell her that you admire someone who does direct patient care. I usually tell them that I worked in a nursing home as a teenager, or give another piece of personal information. This tactic reminds them that you are a human being with a story about your life. You don’t have time to explain your whole story, so connecting on any level may help them to see you as a person, not a number or a statistic.Disengage from the staff entirely.While in ER with spasms after a variceal banding, the staff ignored me for hours in the waiting room. Then they treated me like a drug addict looking for a fix. I ignored them - got up out of the bed and began to do yoga poses, moaning softly in pain. Eventually, they sedated me for a couple of hours. I was done talking to them anyway. This tactic may help you to feel less emotional pain. When you know the rejection is there, you aren’t going to change it. In that case, put your best foot forward and be the bigger person.Disrespect never feels good. When you see it coming, either try to bring out the best in the medical staff or just survive the visit and go to a different clinic next time. Either way, respect yourself first and help your body heal.

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