View Full Version : Meddling Media

12-23-2007, 05:17 AM
Meddling Media

The media rarely get the whole story, and when they do, they even more rarely get it right. It wouldn't worry me so much if the media didn't get it right, but they've made things a lot more unpleaseant for me at work.

These headlines appeared in the local newspaper a couple of years ago in my home town "Child with meningitis waits four hours to see doctor." Needless to say, these headlines were on the front page, and the child in question was a child that I had looked after. If witholding the full story is to be considered a lie, then these guys were the biggest liars around.

I made sure the girl saw the emergency room doctor straight away. Of course we suspected she may have meningitis. The emergency room doc immediately consulted with his consultatant, who immediately began a course of the appropriate antibiotics. The girl was literally recieving antibiotic treatment for meningitis withing fifteen minutes of being admitted.

Unfortunately the children's ward was full, and the paediatric specialist was unable to see the girl for four hours, and so the child was left with us in the emergency room. When a bed was finally available in the children's ward, she was taken there and seen by the paediatrician, brining the total number of doctor's who had seen her now to three.

The family were not happy at having to wait four hours to see the paediatrician, and they made their displeasure obvious by writing to the paper. After saving this child's life, I would like to think that it was a miscommunication on the part of the family, that omitted to tell the newspaper that she had actually seen not just one, but two doctor's within minutes of arriving at hospital. I like to think it was an over-eager journalist desperate to make front page headlines. It doesn't matter who was to blame, because the result is the same. The day that story was printed, we ended up with a waiting room full of angry parents (children included) demanding to see the doctor, all convinced they had meningitis, and all certain that they needed to shout and be abusive as they were convinced we were not just useless, but neglegent.

The real story never got printed. The damage was done.

12-23-2007, 10:16 AM
Unfortunately we now live in a world where the first port of call for people is the local paper. The context within which the events happened is neither checked nor cared about by the media, after all a more balanced approach wouldn't make for good dramatic headlines. All we can do is to keep doing our best and hope that other patients (and their parents) feed in the context often in terms of the local paper's letters pages. Sadly nursing and the NHS in general (I'm thinking you are in the UK?) is a good thing to kick right now.

Mr Ian
12-23-2007, 01:03 PM
Health is ALWAYS a good thing to kick. It's full of politicians, bureaucrats and medical staff. What's not good for a journalist there?

If you can get over the hysterical mania that breaks out, sometimes these things can do some good tho. Many times the stories that hit the press on the Health service come from staff, not patients, and are intended to either bring attention to the perceived poor standard or simply annoy a higher manager.

However, when it comes to reporting, never expect the facts or the balanced picture - just the sensationalist perspective.

12-26-2007, 04:03 PM
The thing that gets me is the attitude that "the patient is always right" - it's the manifestation of the consumer/"client" way of looking at patients.

It's their word against the health care provider and they will always win.

Mother Jones, RN
12-26-2007, 05:33 PM
There is an old saying in the newspaper business: If it bleeds, it leads. The
health care system will always be an easy target for the media.

MJ :pepsi:

12-26-2007, 06:14 PM
The thing that gets me is the attitude that "the patient is always right" ....
A NUM told be a better one. The patient is never right, but I nurse all ways listens and works out what is really wrong.

It is probably up to the hospitals media department to handle the paper. I am surprised that there was not some kind of retraction, most likely on pg 10 where no one will see it.

You may be disheartened that you haven't got the respect from the family that you deserve. But I am sure that health professionals around the world are thankful for the work you have done. Well Done. :congrats:

12-28-2007, 03:25 PM
I actually like the "hospital compare" site run by the CMS committee... You can go to the site, put in a zip code, and see how all of the hospitals in the area are doing on the various CMS indicators... The only problem is the information is almost 9 months behind, so if you had a great quarter, it won't show up for 9 more months...

The site is: Hospital Compare (