Setting Boundaries in Health Care

Do you know what you'd do if faced with an angry doctor or a nurse who repeatedly couldn't find a vein? My new post for HealthCentral looks at setting boundariesin health care situations.

"We all have a sense of boundaries on what we will accept, and what we can do and say to each other. But when you enter a health care setting, different rules apply and all of a sudden, it can be hard to know where to draw the line.

The angry dermatologist

I’ve been there myself many times over the years. One situation especially stands out as a learning opportunity for me.

I’d been referred to a dermatologist for my annual mole check. When I was shown into the doctor’s office, I very quickly knew something was wrong. He seemed grouchy and there was an edge in how he spoke to his nurse. When part of my wheelchair was blocking him, his angry gesture to get me out of the way sealed the deal. I didn’t say anything — it didn’t feel safe to do so with someone who had that level of anger.

I didn't file a complaint, but did ask my family doctor for a referral to someone else. I also suggested she not refer other patients to the angry doctor.

Empower yourself

The dynamic between health care provider and patient has traditionally been very authoritarian. Whether this is the cringe-inducing idea about being compliant with your doctor’s orders — are you compliant in any other sphere of your life? — or submitting to painful and invasive procedures, the system is designed to step all over your personal boundaries."

Read the rest of the post on HealthCentral.


Rick Phillips said…

I have a simple rule, if it is not fun, I do not do it. That comes to doctors as well. If I do not care for them or they will not laugh, I do not retain their services. At age 60, I gert that privilege.
Unknown said…
I was at a conference the other day. The speaker shared how she works on getting students to advocate for themselves and their unique needs. It occurred to me that it isn't just in healthcare, but education and many other places that we need to learn to be our own advocate. I wonder why it is so hard. What makes the change in a person where they finally learn it is okay to let others know what and how they need something. Interesting. For me, it took having children to learn to be an advocate for my family and myself. As a teacher, I love when students share how I can help them better. I bet many doctors do too.
Anonymous said…
I changed my gynecologist when, after having a miscarriage, all the nurse could talk about was how bad my insurance was. I didn't have a choice of insurance, and was grieving, and decided that was it. My new doctor assured me that if one of his nurses ever said anything to me that disturbed me, to let him know immediately. I stayed with him for all of my pregnancies, and never had a problem.

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