Obnoxious Family Members

On a panel discussion I was chairing, I asked medical professionals what they find to be their biggest hindrance to their work.

Is it the heavy patient load, the inadequate rest facilities or insufficient nursing staff?

All doctors said that the number one hindrance to their work and also the most annoying is: family members of patients who phone them incessantly to ask for updates, even giving advice to the doctors.

“One woman identified herself as a ‘doctor’ and proceeded to tell me what to do,” said a doctor. He later found out that the woman was a PhD in Buddhist Studies from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya!

“I once had two siblings making no less than 20 phone calls in a 12-hour period,” said another doctor, “the calls ranged from requests to move their father to a better ward, to telling the nursing staff what temperature to set for the air-conditioning to asking for their father’s latest blood pressure readings to instructing us what medicine to dispense, and worse, sometimes they contradicted each other!”

“Oh, try topping this,” countered an endodontist, “one man even attempted to ‘teach’ me how to carry out root canal treatment for his wife!”

“One angry teenager spat on me, kicked up a fuss and threatened to file a complaint to the health ministry when I refused to let her Reiki ‘master’ into the emergency ward to ‘lay hands’ on her dying grandma,” shared a neurologist, “this, when the whole world knows that Reiki is pseudo science. She should check the Wikipedia entry on Reiki. She’ll find that all scholarly texts and academic journals use Reiki as an illustrative example of pseudoscience, yet she swears by it.”

So, how then should family members behave?

“Excessive concern shown by family members troubles me more than it buoys me,” shared a surgeon, “this may not sound acceptable to our hashtag-woke world, but I live in the bullring, not you. Your wife, or husband, or brother or sister or son or daughter means nothing to me; my number one priority is not you, sorry, my number one priority is to treat my patient and save his or life. You messing with my job with your stupid and frequent phone calls will only do harm!”

One exasperated rheumatologist summed it up best: “We are trained, Singapore’s health care expertise and facilities are world class, patients from all over the world flock here for treatment, so let us do our work, your unceasing interference may even result in your relative’s death. Just because you have access to Google doesn’t make you smarter than us.”

Great advice indeed!

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