Frontline heroes and essential workers are our modern-day superheroes. Say what you will, doctors and nurses have been putting their lives on the line to take care of the sick for the past five months. The news has been full of stories about coronavirus, praising doctors and nurses for the good work that they are doing. While I agree that our world is facing an incredibly challenging time, some personal experience leads me to question if this senseless virus is altering doctors' behaviors.
This past weekend my mom was rushed to the hospital after going into anaphylaxis. Although neither one of us is a stranger to this reaction, typically a shot of epinephrine or Benadryl does the trick. But in this case, neither seemed to work. At the hospital, despite her closing airways, it took her nearly 30 minutes to see a doctor who wouldn't even come into the room.
For some frame of reference: My mom is an incredibly intelligent physician who has struggled with health issues her entire adult life. This doctor, however, continued to insult my mother's intellect by insisting that she did not know what she was talking about. I am sorry, but what happened to bedside manner? To make matters worse, the hospital staff would not allow my dad into the building, let alone the room. My mother, with her closing airways, was forced to advocate for herself to a doctor who would not even listen.
One important step to becoming a doctor is taking the Hippocratic Oath, a promise to "first, do no harm."
In my mind, this doesn't just apply to physical wellbeing, but emotional and mental as well — something I believe my mother's doctor seemed to forget.
I understand these are incredibly trying times. I see photos circulating the internet of doctors' and nurses' faces with scaring and bruising from their PPE. I see the posts nurses make after losing a patient to COVID. I see the videos of people in New York cheering and banging pots and pans at 7:00 p.m in support of their healthcare workers. But I also see that every patient is not receiving that same attention and care. One life should not be valued at a higher weight because of symptoms. One illness does not negate the importance of another medical emergency.
If someone was having a heart attack, how would doctors respond?
Right now, hospitals are limiting family and the people that are allowed in. It is more important now more than ever for nurses and doctors to be a source of light and comfort for patients, not put them on the defensive leaving them feeling scared and alone.