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Yes, Actions Do Have Consequences

A while back I met an individual, a member of the HCP community, who told me that they read my blog. I still feel a little awkward when someone tells me that, so I usually just say “Thanks!”.

The individual asked me some rather pointed questions about a post I did a few months ago,  And This One Time, I Told My CDE “You’re Fired” which was really a summary of several posts from back in early 2009.  Read it if you want but the post itself is not really the topic of this post.

The topic is one of the questions that HCP asked me.  They were all pointed, very focused and that’s fine with me.  They were also very emotional, sounding angry at first.

I initially thought I was getting “schooled” for daring to be a patient that would speak up.  I’ve had conversations like that before and they all have one thing in common.  There are tones of arrogance and condescension in those conversations, those were missing here however.

So I finally concluded that this particular individual knew the educator in question and was not commenting as a HCP, but as a friend.  It’s a blurry line at times, I think…

I was asked (paraphrased) “Does it bother you that the educator lost their job and has small children?”

I responded that no it did not bother me.  The reply was an an angry “Well it should!”

There were a few other comments and questions, but this one is the one that made me think.

After thinking about it and even knowing how much I do enjoy feeling guilty and ashamed, my answer is still “No” and here’s why.

I was not even going to do anything except switch to a different endo until I saw the patient summary sheet that the educator had written (see the complaint letter in the post linked above).  Even then, I was pissed but still not really too interested in pursuing it, remember my Why Bother attitude was still in control.  Why Bother challenging something like this when I’m supposed  to already be dead?

Then a dear friend of mine, who also works in healthcare told that I should pursue this because we really have no idea how many other people had been treated the same way by that educator.  When I started the complaint process, it was no longer about me, I was already over it.  It was about others who may have had similar experiences but not taken the steps to do anything about it.

More importantly it was about those future kids, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles… those people who might someday run into this particular educator and have to deal with the same crap I did.  Something no person should have to experience while trying to care for a long term chronic condition, hell, any condition.

I was not seeking the removal of this person, never once did I say that person should be fired.  And I also find it a bit hard to believe that a single letter from a single patient (tho it was copied to 11 different individuals and organizations) could actually get someone fired.

Sure, bloggers can have some influence, but I was just starting down that path then so I seriously doubt there was much worry there, especially when I went to such lengths to remove all names, of both individuals and institutions.

Honestly, I can think of only three scenarios where such a thing could occur, if I’ve missed something, please tell me in a comment.

  1. The behavior of the educator was considered to be a such serious breach of professional protocols and ethics that the institutions involved simply could not have such a person on staff.
  2. The behavior of the educator opened the institutions up to some type of legal liability, even though I had never even considered getting a lawyer involved.
  3. The educator had a history of such complaints about similar behavior towards patients and mine was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

All three of those scenario’s have one thing in common: the educator’s behavior.  The reason I wrote that letter was also because of that behavior.

So no, I don’t feel bad.  Did I intend for someone to lose their job? No. I just wanted to make sure it never happened to any one else.

If you were treated badly, don’t hesitate to speakup.  Our voices are the only way things get better for us all.  Remember to be “politely assertive”, it may be hard not to get emotional but you can expect better results if you stay professional.

There may be unpleasant consequences for some, but lets place those consequences where they deserve to be, with their source.

I am responsible for the consequences of my actions, my behavior and that educator is responsible for the consequences of theirs.

© 2012 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and

  • Bennet

    So as I get this the member of the HCP community wanted you to feel responsible for the outcomes that resulted to CDE as a result of your interaction but didn’t think outcomes that happened to you as the patient in those interactions was something CDE/ Practice should be held accountable for?

    Novel point of view. Patients are responsible for care givers not the other way around. Bass Ackwards if you ask me.

    • Hi Bennet,

      I should have made it clearer that I don’t believe this individual was commenting as a HCP, but instead as a friend of the educator… I’ll update it a bit to clarify that


  • I think you were right to pursue the path you did. I tell my friends & loved ones all the time that your doctors have hundreds of patients, but YOU are the only patient YOU have. You have to be your own best advocate.

    I too am prone to blame myself & feel far more guilt than I should, but I agree that you shouldn’t feel responsible for that person losing their job. Their own actions led to that. No one else’s.

  • Bob P

    The CDE was probably replaced by someone, and that someone also needs a job.

    • I’m sure that’s true Bob and with the ongoing shortage of CDE’s in the country I would think that another position wouldn’t be hard to find

  • Scott, I am a nurse and I often hear patients or their families complain about doctors, nurses, the hospital whatever. I ALWAYS tell them to let someone know. Fill out the survey the hospital sends out, call the supervisor. These people have to listen to you as a patient. Most people get into these professions because they want to, it’s a calling, or they just like helping people, but the bottom line is they are a business. So either they have to “make the customer happy” or they lose their business. They can’t make those kinds of changes without feedback, positive and negative. I had one doctor who wrote in my chart that the pain I was experiencing was all in my head. Guess what, that was 10 years ago and I just had the surgery this year that has “fixed” what was in my head. Unfortunately, we have to be our own best advocate. I would not have gotten a correct diagnosis and be on the cusp of starting a pump if I had not asked questions and pushed my health care team. You are right, if the CDE was fired, it was because of her behavior and not because of your complaint.

    • Hi Marcie,

      I’m glad you finally got your surgery, but wish it hadn’t taken you so long to get it. Yes, we do have to be our own advocate and if we can’t, we need to find someone who can advocate for us.

      I believe that good institutions do want to hear these stories because they do I think they do want to help people. It’s becoming more and more important for them to understand that the public’s perception of them can be be damaged when people share their stories of things such as this. As you say, at the end of the day their ledgers need to balance

  • Sara

    I read through the documents originally and I read through them again in case I had forgotten anything.

    I have “fired” medical practices for far less. If a restaurant, grocery store, clothing store, etc treated us like you describe there would be no way we would return to the same location. So why is it that “we” (as a patient community) accept that type of care from medical professionals.

    • Hi Sara,

      Honestly, I think a lot of it is the traditional paternalistic method that has been the status quo for so long. Until this little thing called the internet let people find out a ton of good information very quickly, it allowed patients to communicate freely with each other, usually in a way that doesn’t require a medical degree to understand.

      It’s changing because patients are beginning to insist on it, but it a slow change because so many HCPs and institutions are still in that paternalistic mindset.

      That is why all of our stories are important. Unless we, as patients/consumers/whatever, speak up, nothing will change

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