A woman standing in front of a wall covered in graffiti hiding her face behind an emoji balloon with the title of the article in the top right corner - Doctor Mocks Patient: A Failure In Their Duty Of Care

Doctor Mocks Patient: A Failure In Their Duty Of Care

I came across an article in Flex Mag called “Doctor Mocks And Laughs At Patient Suffering Anxiety Attack” which I found shocking (unfortunately the article is no longer available on the site, but you can find it here and here instead). I really hope what that doctor did and what’s explained of what transpired is an over-exaggeration. Because no doctor or medical professional should act like that.


However, with everything you hear in the news about America at the moment, it’s probably spot on.


What Is The Duty Of Care?


I became aware of the duty of care as a legal requirement while I was volunteering as a substance abuse recovery worker because it also applied to my role. According to the Royal College of Nurses, the law (in the UK at least) requires all health care practitioners, whether a doctor, a nurse, a health care assistant, or even a volunteer recovery worker have a duty of care to avoid harming a patient through their actions or omissions. To me, that means not mocking a patient suffering a panic attack when you’re a doctor.




The Doctor Mocks Patient Article


In the article, they report that Dr Beth Keegstra harassed and humiliated a 20-year-old college student who had been brought in after collapsing at basketball training suffering from a panic attack. The whole situation is messed up, and if you have the time, you should check out the video of the incident in the article.


The reason I’m writing about this, well, the two reasons I’m writing about this, is that even doctors and other medical professionals can be unsympathetic to those suffering from mental health problems. Doctors and other medical professionals are people too, and a lot of people just don’t understand or believe those suffering from mental health issues.


The other reason was that something similar happened to me. But first, let me provide a little background to the incident. In my early 20s, my drinking and drug use caused me to develop my anxiety disorders, which would trigger psychotic episodes when an anxiety attack would get out of control.


They also had the knock-on effect that I became incredibly sensitive to anything that affected my body’s homeostasis (the state of equilibrium for providing optimal functioning for my body by keeping such things as body temperature within certain pre-set limits: the homeostatic range).


The picture is split in two with the top image being of a women laughing and pointing towards the viewer and the bottom image of a woman sitting down in a café hiding her face behind her hands. The two images are separated by the article title - Doctor Mocks Patient: A Failure In Their Duty Of Care


In my case, my body was desperate to keep my brain and body chemistry within a strict homeostatic range, to the point that taking painkillers, even just two tablets over two consecutive days would cause me to hallucinate.


Furthermore, any amount of caffeine would cause a psychotic episode, and I even started to hallucinate due to a drip I was placed on when I was taken to the hospital a few days after a suicide attempt evolving painkillers and alcohol because my body still hadn’t recovered and I was in a lot of pain. In short, pretty much anything that could alter my body’s functioning even in the smallest of amounts would screw me over.


Not that any of the doctors I saw would believe me. They just kept prescribing me medication that would always trigger a psychotic episode, and thus I had a lot of medication-induced psychotic episodes in my early days of seeking treatment.


So when I had a tonsillectomy, I was deeply concerned with how my body was going to react after the operation. I was worried because of the effects of the drugs I’d have to take in order to have the operation once they started to wear off and I woke up.


Unfortunately, I was right to be worried, at first I felt fine, and I tried to eat while they held me on the ward after the operation, but I kept being sick every time I tried to eat, and the hungrier I got after being nil by mouth in order to have the operation, the worse I felt, the weaker I felt, and the stronger my anxiety got.


Uncle Sam pointing towards the reader with the words "shame on you" next to him to represent the shame that doctor should feel for their behaviour


I tried talking to the nurse looking after our small recuperation ward, to explain to her about my anxiety problems and that I was starting to hallucinate and begged them to allow me to be discharged so I could get a taxi home. But they wouldn’t allow me to leave without an escort (my partner), nor would they allow me to close the curtains around my bed or offer to do anything that’d help me to calm my anxiety down, whilst I slowly started to fall into another psychotic episode as the hallucinations became stronger and stronger, affecting more and more of my senses.


Although I didn’t suffer the outrageous behaviour alleged in the article, thank god, the total lack of support for someone suffering from mental health who’s asking for help while under the care of medical professionals is still shocking behaviour, and has stayed with me ever since.


I often worry about what’ll happen next time I need an operation or if I’m in an accident and I’m given drugs as part of my hospital treatment, all due to the fear it’ll trigger another psychotic episode within a situation I might be completely helpless to do anything about, due to being attached to machines, various cables, and other such important medical equipment.


I hope I never need an operation again.




As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to talk about your experiences with a doctor and other medical professionals that made you feel humiliated due to having mental health issues in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.


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18 thoughts on “Doctor Mocks Patient: A Failure In Their Duty Of Care

  1. I am sorry you had to go through this! Even only reading about it makes me think twice on why they even started being doctors in the first place! Though it’s not that unusual, mostly for mental health and going to the GP’s.

  2. This is a pretty disgusting story – like you say it’s show some people’s attitudes to mental health issues are even in the medical profession.

    I read something the other day that was suggesting mental health issues were down to a negative mindset – really people if they don’t know what they are talking about need to keep quiet.

    Unfortunately there does seem to be people who think it’s simply a case of snapping out of it!

    • People, like my mum, who has struggled with depression for most my childhood, hence the emotional neglect, thinks I should just snap out of it, even though she couldn’t

  3. Doctors mocking patients is totally unethical. Informative post! Thank you for sharing this with the world.

  4. I’m so sorry you went through such a horrible experience. I feel like medical professionals dismiss the mental health needs of younger people because they look at us like we have nothing to be depressed about.

    They also think that just because we’re younger that we’re not educated enough to understand these issues. I had a psychiatrist tell me I was going to kill my self within the month because I didn’t want to take a particular medication due to its side effects. He kept throwing the fact he has a four year degree around like it meant something.

    I haven’t seen a psych since.

    • The psychiatrist you had that unfortunate encounter with doesn’t deserve to have a job if that’s how they behave. That’s counter to how someone in that position is meant to act and behave. They clearly need to be taught about the therapeutic relationship again

  5. Sorry to hear you had this experience, I work in health care myself and some of the things you hear doctors and other healthcare workers saying can be quite shocking, there definitely can be a lack of empathy and it’s a problem that needs sorted sooner than later!

  6. I am so sorry that this happened to you. That is horrible that your doctor did not really take care of you and listen to you. They should have really listened to you the patient and made sure you were okay. I think its wrong for any medical professional to make fun of or mock their patients. This could cause people to not want to go to the doctor or just get scared to go because they fear they won’t be heard. I am glad you are bring awareness to this issue. Again, I am so sorry this happened to you.

  7. I did not hear of the Doctor Mocks’ incident, which I am really surprised by! It sounds outrageous, as no one who is seeking help deserves to be made fun of and so dismissively treated. I have never had any bad experiences, but I am sorry some of your experiences have touched on the uncaring side.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on an important moment!

  8. Yes, shame on him! I glad the Dad recorded it. I hope he get’s in a lot of trouble. This is horrible! Us healthcare workers are put in a position of trust. For shame, for shame. Makes me sick. This was me, when I was 20, and in College, in the ER having panic attacks.

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