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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.

Rudeness

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Karen Hoyt moderator author
    4 days ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your important story. Persistence paid off. I honestly got teary eyes as I read how you had to beg. BUT you did beg your trusted primary care and you got the support you needed!

    I love seeing how you put your feelings aside and did what needed to be done. You became the bigger person, and drew on your strengths!

    Right now I’m giving you a standing ovation!

    xo Karen

  • Tash
    3 weeks ago

    I dealt with alot of this with my first hepatitis doctor, I would call asking questions about what’s going on currently in the process or if I had questions or even ideas, I felt like the doctor & nurses simply didn’t care & when I was told not to call back period that they’ll call me if needed.. that was the last straw but instead of creating any type of scene I went to my family/mental health doctor & simply begged him to refer me to a different hospital altogether with a new doctor which he did & it turned out to be the best thing that could’ve ever happened. My new doctor was loving, caring, & had absolutely no issues with me calling about questions or even suggestions. When I took things into my own hands, my doctor 100% supported me in doing so & when I reached out to a company begging for help & them promising they’d do everything they could to help me & my doctor was so proud of me the day we got the news saying I was approved & was to start my treatment in a couple weeks. She told me that I cured myself & that she had never seen a patient so determined to NOT be told “no” & fight for a cure on my own.

    Basically, when it feels like you’re being treated unfairly or being judged by a doctor, do be the bigger person & if possible switch to a new doctor that truly cares, supports you, & wants to help see you get cured from such a devastating virus. This may be an old article but I felt it was an extremely important one because I have personally experienced disrespect from a doctor & their team & it’s one thing to experience stigma from the people around you, but it can be flat out heartbreaking to experience it from a medical professional. For every bad there is always good though, you just got to keep looking if that’s what it takes.

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