The day a patient thanked me for yelling at them

Far out – with an article title like “the day a patient thanked me for yelling at them” it almost seems that there is a time and a place for just about everything in the health industry!! Well, erm, perhaps not…. but fairly recently I had an instance when a patient actually sincerely thanked me for yelling at him.
So let’s go into the details about how and why this happened……

I had a patient present for an eye test, whom if I recall correctly, was in his 70s. He came in with a lady of a similar age, who, he was up front in saying, was his ex-wife. Now I have encountered many scenarios of people presenting for an eye examination with their sibling/parent/child/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/carer, but this was the first time I’d had an ex-wife accompany her ex-husband.

So before I even started the eye examination, I knew there was perhaps something out of the ordinary happening with these people.

The eye test started out as per usual, I asked the patient questions about his why he’d come in, his past ocular history and family ocular history, general health and the sorts of visual tasks he did. But from pretty early into the case history, it became apparent that I would not just need to speak up to be audible (as happens with many older patients who are hard of hearing)….. I would basically need to YELL for this patient to hear me.

Now as it turns out, on this particular day, there was an information technology guy in the practice fixing some computers. He couldn’t help but overhear the entire consultation from the room next door. Following the consultation, one of the staff members mentioned that the IT guy had made snide remarks about my abilities as a practitioner because I shouldn’t be speaking in such a loud voice. That’s fine – he is entitled to his opinion.

The interesting part though, was at the end of the consultation, when, completely unexpectedly to me, the patient and his ex-wife began thanking me profusely for the attention I’d given him. His ex-wife explained that he had attended many appointments, including with health professionals, where he had come out completely unaware of the outcome as he had simply smiled and nodded as he couldn’t hear a thing that was being said to him. To the point where she had started coming along so that she could relay the information back to him later.

By yelling at this patient, I’d given him the opportunity to engage in a discussion about the best way to proceed with his care. Weird but true!

I’ve been a health professional for a little over 10 years now, and I’d never come across a situation like this previously. I’m sure I still haven’t “seen it all” yet, but I never thought I’d see the day when it was appropriate to yell at a patient!!

Amanda – Founder My Health Career. :)

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