#BelieveMothers, When Ego Becomes a Barrier to Care…
I’ve been seeing a whole lot of #believemothers– a reference to medical providers not acknowledging illnesses and injuries attributed to vaccines by mothers of ill children.
It’s not that we don’t want to. I’d love to. That would make my job a lot easier.
As an ER nurse, triage is a big part of my job. I acknowledge that people BELIEVE a lot of things- I also know how to ask questions that reveal the likely cause of an illness or injury. Your doctor knows how to assess and order testing that rules out/confirms a diagnosis. In many ways, the job of a medical team is to “believe nothing and question everything.”
A typical day in triage:
Patient, chief complaint: nausea and vomiting
“I ate a burrito last night that tasted funny. I BELIEVE I have food poisoning. I woke up this morning and vomited twice.”
Nurse: “when was your last menstrual cycle?”
Patient: “I don’t recall.”
Nurse: “is there any chance you could be pregnant?”
Patient: “oh no.”
Nurse: “do you take any medications?”
Nurse: “are you sexually active?”
Doctor: “collect a urine for a U-preg”
Patient is pregnant. No food poisoning.
Patient, chief complaint left arm pain: “I was moving a wood pile yesterday and today my left arm hurts & is numb. I BELIEVE I may have torn a muscle.”
Nurse: “what were you doing when this pain started?”
Patient: “I was on my morning walk”
Nurse: “did you feel short of breath at this time?”
Patient: “I did have to cut my walk short because I felt winded.”
Nurse: immediately performs EKG. EKG shows ST segment elevation in 3 leads.
Patient is having a heart attack.
I have almost 20 years of stories just like these ones . Its every day, all day. It’s not that we don’t acknowledge what you BELIEVE to be true- It’s that we have the training to know when what you believe, doesn’t match what’s actually happening.
To properly assess the causation of an event you must have in depth and very intimate, second nature understanding of very complex physiologic processes, how they present and what the causes may be.
No amount of google scholar research can give you this. Even simply passing medical school or nursing school can’t give you this. A lot of it is gained by years of clinical patient experience. That’s something that even your failed drop out Anti-vaxx doctors and nurses who are now slinging MLM product don’t have. They were not able to apply their education well enough to remain successful in clinical practice and acquire this skill that only comes with time.
Sure, your medical team could continue down the rabbit hole of chasing your “belief”- but in most cases that would just waste time and delay treatment for the real problem. Our job is to save lives, not massage your need to be believed at the expense of your health or your child’s health.
Could this first patient have had food poisoning, sure. You can find some literature to support that with the symptoms she presented with. Could the second patient have had a torn muscle from lifting wood, yeah happens all the time.
Had I followed patient #1’s belief, I could have cost her this pregnancy. Dehydration causes uterine contractions which could’ve ended in a spontaneous abortion.
Had I followed patient #2’s belief, I could have missed a heart attack that cost him his life to explore something as non-life threatening as a torn muscle.
In the medical profession we don’t #believeanyone. We’re taught to question everything, that’s what saves lives. We don’t even believe our own eyes. What our eyes tell us is frequently only the tip of the iceberg. For instance a patient with a badly broken displaced ankle, sitting at a 90° angle from his tibia- I know he’s screaming in pain. He was just in a bad motor vehicle collision, I need to get that ankle reduced, it’s important, he wants pain meds, but if the collision could do that to his ankle, what else might be wrong? Good thing I asked myself, he has a demolished spleen causing internal hemorrhage- he can live without a foot if it comes to that. It’s not pretty, it’s not nice. I believe you that your ankle hurts the most. But I don’t believe you or my own eyes that this is the worst of your injuries. Our disbelief saves lives.
Your medical team can hurt you by believing you. You can hurt your own children if your need to be believed becomes so important to you that you ignore the advice of your medical team. Stop the obsession with being believed. We’re not insulting you, we’re doing our jobs.