This patient used to get frequent heart palpitations and hence knew what he needed, despite what the doctor said.
In the world of healthcare, a story shared by u/thefrustratedpoet on Subreddit r/MaliciousCompliance serves as a stark reminder of the importance of patient advocacy and the consequences of medical professionals dismissing a patient's experience. This particular incident, dating back over a decade, highlights the enduring impact of a doctor's arrogance and stubbornness on the patient, their family and their ultimate well-being.
In 2011, the individual's father underwent surgery to remove one of his kidneys due to a sizable cyst. Two days post-surgery, while recovering in the hospital ward, he began to experience a familiar but unsettling sensation—heart palpitations. For nearly two decades, he had been grappling with these palpitations, a condition he had become well-acquainted with. A routine had emerged—when palpitations struck, he would promptly head to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department for an injection from the cardiac team. However, on this particular day, the doctor on duty took an electrocardiogram (ECG) and delivered a verdict that left the user's father in disbelief. The doctor asserted that he was not experiencing heart palpitations, and instead was exhibiting a normal sinus rhythm.
Undeterred by this misjudgment, he tried to explain his longstanding experience with palpitations, emphasizing his familiarity with the sensation. Moreover, he suggested a straightforward solution—contact the cardiac team, a step taken annually, as the heart nurses knew him well and had a fondness for his spirited personality. Despite his pleas, the doctor refused to page the cardiac team, maintaining her belief that he was not experiencing palpitations. Thus began a distressing period for the individual's father. Stranded in a hospital bed beyond visiting hours, he endured increasing anxiety and distress, knowing well the discomfort of palpitations he had lived with for years.
This story sheds light on a prevalent issue in healthcare—medical professionals dismissing a patient's firsthand knowledge and experiences. u/WheresRobbieTho captured the essence of this issue stating, "I think sometimes they assume that because they're the professional and you're not, everything you say is bulls**t. 'I went to medical school' and I love that for you but also I've lived in this body for 30 years and I know when it's doing certain things."
In a surprising twist, the doctor issued an ultimatum. She informed him that if he left the ward, they would deem him as having absconded and proceed to formally discharge him. This ultimatum arrived just two days after he had undergone major surgery to remove one of his kidneys. Faced with this challenge, he decided to employ the tactic of malicious compliance. In a daring move, the patient made a call that no one expected. From his hospital bed, he dialed 999, the emergency services line in the UK. When the call handler inquired about his location, he humorously replied, "That's an interesting question, it's xx xx xx, but right now I'm onward x at a hospital!" The call handler, taken aback, sought an explanation for this unconventional call.
He relayed the entire ordeal to the call handler, who escalated the call to a manager. The manager promptly intervened, seeking to speak with the doctor responsible for the incident. As the doctor faced the consequences of her actions, she arranged for a porter to transport him to the A&E department (the UK's equivalent of an emergency room) to be assessed by the cardiac team. The outcome was a striking revelation—indeed, he was experiencing palpitations that had persisted for several hours. With a swift injection, his heart returned to its normal rhythm, leaving everyone involved stunned.
The emotional impact of this ordeal was profound. The individual who was in their twenties at the time, witnessed their father, their superhero, in a state of vulnerability and fear. It was an experience etched into her memory, one that she would never forget. The doctor responsible never extended an apology to her father or the family, leaving them with a lingering sense of injustice. In the aftermath, they contemplated the possibility of legal action, but her father chose to let it go.