Monday, October 17, 2005

Relatives Reactions

The way that relatives react to us when a member of their family needs medical assistance never ceases to amaze me. I'm sure it's because they don't really understand what is going on, so quite often, the reaction is nothing like you'd expect, and is usually completely out of context.

One example (and I've experienced this two or three times now) is at a cardiac arrest. You'd think that seeing a paramedic putting a tube down their loved one's throat, having a defibrillator attached to their chest and probably having an electric shock pumped through their chest and someone performing chest compressions would kind of give it away that they're somewhat rather ill to say the least.

But it's quite often not the case. You'll be asked what's wrong with them by relatives that are very calm and clearly are not switched on to what's occurring right in front of their faces. Maybe it's because they're hoping that it's not really as bad as it looks, or they're just refusing to believe the truth.

When this occurs, someone usually takes the relative to one side, but where they can still see what is happening and explain what's going on. We tend to send two crews to a cardiac arrest to assist with the removal of the patient, so there's usually one person who is able to spend time with relatives and explain exactly what we're doing and why. I personally think this is a very important part of the process, and helps them to understand that we are doing everything possible to save the life of their loved one.

The other reaction we tend to get is complete and utter panic, and a conviction that the injured person is going to die. This tends to occur with injuries such as a broken arm or leg. (And I'm not kidding either!) It also occurs when someone is simply suffering from a bellyache and is vomiting. The other time it happens, and I'm afraid I don't tend to have much sympathy, is when someone has become so drunk they've basically drunk themself unconscious. Believe me, they're fine, and deserve the stonking hangover they'll get the next day.

Drunks are another subject I'll write about in the future. That'll be a bit of a rant.


Anonymous flip said...

OOh can't wait for some spleen venting.....

5:26 pm  
Anonymous EJ said...

I was in a similar situation, and the reasons I was calm were:
1. Professional people were doing lots of complicated things and I had faith in their abilities.
2. To even allow the thought in my head that something bad might happen to my loved one was too horrfic to contemplate, and might even bring it on.
Even after hearing words like 'seriously ill' and 'critical' I still refused to believe that anything but a full recovery was possible.
Irrational, of course, but as an onlooker I felt so useless. The only thing I could do was convince myself that everything was absolutely fine.

Great blog,

9:45 am  
Anonymous Mark said...

I find that the amount of hysterics are related to the amount of pain and blood present. Dead people tend to have neither, so the relatives are calm. Also, incidents involving children tend to evoke high levels of emotion, and fortunately children tend to have lots of minor illnesses and ailments but very rarely die!

7:46 pm  

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