Commenter JimII writes:
So, here's my question, do all doctors hate their patients? Or is it just ER doctors, or is it ER doctors who blog? It is funny because it is clear that Movin' Meat is an Oasis in the blogosphere desert of hate that is ER blogging, but it has nonetheless opened my eyes to the people being glorified every night on the TeeVee and lauded by popular culture. The hatred of the poor is particularly obnoxious. The constant snark about people with publicly funded insurance really bothers me.
I think JimII has a pretty valid point. I try real real hard not to slide down the slippery slope of contempt and hate towards my patients. But the truth cannot be denied that the ER is a particularly effective bottom filter of society. And that ER patients frequently are nutty, or self-destructive, and drug-addicted or alcoholic, or just malignant, manipulative abusers of the system. Medicaid patients, in particular, utilize the ER too frequently and for inappropriate purposes.
So I get it. ER patients are maddening (at least a significant subset of them), and one's blog is a great place to vent about them, as I did today over at MedPage. After all, isn't ranting what blogs are all about? I can, however, see how some people might interpret the ranting as excessive, and there have been times where, reading other medbloggers' posts, I have felt distinctly uncomfortable at the demonization of their patients. I'm not sure where the line is that separates a mordant sense of humor and a bleak cynicism from outright contempt. I often worry that I am crossing that line. There are some blogs that I just don't visit anymore because they were far enough over the line that I couldn't enjoy reading them. There are some blogs that seem to skate back and forth across the line on a daily basis.
I do remember one time in medical school, when I was very frustrated trying to care for an ornery patient at the VA, when a senior resident took me aside and told me that, "sometimes, it's OK to hate your patients." It was something of a seminal moment for me. Prior to that I had the wide-eyed naive idea that I would enjoy and like all of them, I think. Getting permission to dislike my patients was a big step in learning that clinical detachment that is essential to this job.
Having been given that permission, though, it can be a challenge to keep it in check.
20 December 2007
Commenter JimII writes:
Posted by shadowfax at 11:30 AM