- Welcome to a blog about an autistic adult woman in her late 30's using words and images to advocate acceptance as well as awareness of those with life-limiting sensory processing issues and resulting social and behavioral challenges. I write about inclusion ideas for those who remain in isolation due to their neuromakeup and share how my Christian faith keeps me going. Thank you for visiting.
Monday, November 7, 2016
I am autistic and was abused in the Emergency Room
In May, 2009, I had a violent meltdown that lead to law-enforcement and an ambulance ride to the E.R.
Upon arrival I was greeted by a screaming baby, one of the very things my ears just CANNOT tolerate. I covered my ears and begin screaming in distress and immediately I witnessed the ignorance, prejudice and abuse of my junior high and high school past was crashing down on me in adulthood.
Several people were in the room barking questions like "What's your name?" "What meds are you on?" "Stop screaming, you're scaring the lady in the bed next to you!" On top of this, the baby is still screaming, which I am reminded "isn't its fault!" in a derogatory yell. I remind her through tears that I have autism and sensory processing disorder and cannot help my response, either. That brought a threat, "If you can't be quiet then we'll have to give you Haldol. You can't take Haldol? (I am allergic) I thought you didn't want to talk to me. Why are you talking to me now?" She continues to threaten that if I won't take it (which I don't) then she will go get security, so she does.
I picked up the phone and called my mom, remembering to dial 9 first; as I am so familiar with hellspitals...I mean hospitals. When my mom talked to Nurse Ratchet, all of a sudden, the security guards leave along with the dripping syringe of Haldol. I reminded her that it is her duty to know the basics of autism and not my responsibility to educate her.
After 4 hours, with my mom holding my ears each time the baby cried and closed the sliding glass door the staff frequently left open, the case-worker came and spoke with me, made out a customary wellness plan and then I was discharged.
How could this situation been handled differently? Simple. If you are a nurse or any other member of the medical community you know the first rule of medicine-do no harm where there is no harm. De-escalate the situation! Don't make a bad situation worse by being sarcastic or yelling. Find out why your patient is in distress. Do what you can to make them as comfortable as possible (even if that means simply not being a jerk). Take your patient seriously. If they tell you that they are allergic to a particular medication, LISTEN and don't force potentially deadly medication on them. It's better to be safe than possibly kill someone and be sued and/or incarcerated later. You kind folks of the medical community know who you are. You abusive, stupid ones who will defend the broken system and down put people like me, because in your heart and mind you want to see me and those like me fail. Nurse Ratchet was reported to her supervisor.
I can't stress enough the importance of having an advocate to speak for you if you are unable. This goes for everyone. Someone in your family should have a list of your meds, doctor phone-numbers and a copy of your living will-if you have one. They should be a primary contact like a parent, grown child or spouse and live near you. Lastly, report abuse of anyone on the spectrum. Don't settle for just an apology. I've been thrown out of another hospital because they couldn't keep me from using the chain of command. I chose to report the abuse I witnessed and personally experienced as a patient on their psych unit.
Here is a link for reporting abuse in senior citizens in the U.S.
Here is another link for abuse of those with special needs from DHS