"Upset by doctor in the CAU at Forth Valley"
About: Forth Valley Royal Hospital / Acute assessment unit Forth Valley Royal Hospital Acute assessment unit FK5 4WR Forth Valley Royal Hospital / Clinical assessment unit Forth Valley Royal Hospital Clinical assessment unit FK5 4WR
Posted by tin woman (as ),
In March I was sent by the out of hours service to the CAU due to stomach pain and fainting. While there, and in AAU3, I received excellent care from nurses and nursing assistants.
I was seen by a doctor however who really upset me. Having (I assume) looked at my notes, when he was speaking to me, he said, "eating disorder? You aren’t very slim”. Feeling as ill as I did I didn’t say anything to him about the inappropriateness of the comment, but after he left I was really upset and crying – the nurses were again excellent and understood why I was upset.
I asked not to see that doctor again and was told I wouldn’t. The next day though he came back to see me, despite me saying again in the morning to a junior doctor that I really didn’t want to see that doctor, and this time his comment regarding my eating disordered history was that I looked fine so my diet must be fine. I started crying when he said it this time. The junior doctor was with him, and they both left but the junior doctor came back to check I was ok and apologise. Luckily I didn’t see him again.
It perhaps isn’t clear, but in my opinion not all – in fact relatively few – people with eating disorders or a history of an eating disorder are significantly underweight. Most will be a normal weight, some might even be overweight. Not being visibly underweight does not mean you don’t have an eating disorder, and I believe it is exactly those kind of inaccurate perceptions that stop people with eating disorders seeking help. I don't think doctors should be reinforcing these perceptions with comments like the one made to me. Though the comments upset me, I know that the doctor was wrong in what he said, which makes me wonder if he told me anything else that was incorrect that I didn’t pick up on – my confidence in his ability as a doctor, someone who should be trusted, is reduced.
I’d like reassurance about the professional development of consultants in Forth Valley and what it covers – does it cover mental illnesses like eating disorders? I’d also like to appeal to junior doctors and nurses to be brave and say something at the time of an inappropriate remark or comment – not just come back and apologise later. I appreciate it is difficult and not currently the norm, but no one should be letting patients believe things they know not to be correct.
Again I’d like to commend the hard working nurses in this area of the hospital, they make a painful, scary and upsetting experience much more bearable through their compassion, good humour and care.