What people say about medical conflict

Quotes from our interviews with parents and professionals.

There is no doubt in my mind, that if somebody had said something nice to me, at the same time that they broke the awful news that my daughter was really very sick, I wouldn’t have held on to the anger for twenty years. The words you use to articulate something that is going to have a deep impact, are terribly, terribly important.

Mother

“It’s very hard to move forward at all when the family doesn’t want engage with you at all.”

Consultant paediatrician

Conflict affects the whole multi-disciplinary team. Everyone who is coming into contact with the patient … The longer you go on the more complex it becomes.

Consultant Paediatrician

“I suppose I just felt as if I had to fight; every time I wanted someone to listen to me I felt as if I had to go into battle, gird up my loins, put my armour on, get my spear out and say, “listen to me, I’ve got something to say”.

– Mother and GP

I think I would offer mediation in every case where there is a potential for major decisions about care and treatment to be made.

Senior Family Law Solicitor

“Conflict can impact on your performance as a doctor.”

– Consultant Paediatrician

Parents desperately need to have somebody who will interpret the hell they are going to go through, but interpreted in a way that is human. We cannot expect everything of our medical profession, it’s not possible. And if we can accept that fact then the role of mediation becomes even greater.

– Mother

“If you lose trust in the people that are supposed to be the ones that can give you the answers, then about 90% of the relationship is gone. Because if you don’t trust the doctors who are doing the treating, you’re kind of in a bit of a black hole.”

– Mother

She didn’t really want to talk about it at all, and she’d tell you she didn’t want to talk about it, and I tried fairly hard on the first couple of weeks, you know, to try to convey what the team felt, but after that I pretty much gave up, because it just seemed as though it wasn’t really working, actually it seemed like it was making her upset and angry and I didn’t want to make her upset and angry.

– Paediatric Intensive Care Consultant

“The more insecure I am, the more I ask different people and if I don’t get some kind of answer, the crosser I will get: the more frustrated I will get. In the first 10 days of (name of baby’s) life, I was asking everybody and anybody, nurses, doctors, anybody who came, Please take a look at my baby, I don’t think my baby’s ok. And when people brushed me aside then I started to get angrier and I’d start to feel like taking people on. I guess that’s it, that insecurity leads to conflict”.

– Mother and GP

The last place you want to get annoyed is a hospital where there are so many kids in pain. I like a doctor who explains everything, gives you options, speaks to you and understands you need to know everything.

Mother

“It’s because you feel you’re not being heard that you raise your voice.”

– Teenage Patient

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