Identifying Violence in Healthcare

My last visit with my Doctor had me feeling a little ashamed. She said nothing that was bad it was briefly seeing my file on her computer screen. Beside “History of Violent Behaviour” it said, “yes”. I’m not really bothered by this history but what I am bothered by is that it’s on my file for everyone to see, most likely for as long as I am a client there, and there is no context provided.

Let me provide this context.

My history of violence is toward me last partner. I would become so angry during our fights that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself that I would hit him. While doing this I was always aware that it was something I shouldn’t be doing and took care to really not use a lot of force. I know that my care int his situation does not matter because the action still occurred and that is unacceptable. Also, while I knew it was wrong I felt powerless. I was caught up in my rage and just wanting to make it stop. I always felt great remorse for my actions. Surprisingly enough this violent behaviour stopped when I stopped taking Aleese (a birth control I was on). This drug physically charged me too much.

Without this context I become concerned that I look like this horrible monster! I have never been arrested for violence, I have never physically injured someone, I have never hit anyone else I know or a stranger but no one would know this from my file which simply says, “yes”.

I bring up this experience because a friend of mine brought to my attention another way that healthcare professionals are identifying violent behaviour. In British Columbia, Canada, a violence prevention program is identifying violent behaviour (intentional/non-intentional, ie: caused by mental health issues) using visual markers like purple dots in the clients file. This purple dot is labeled as “best practice” which is defined,”as an approach to
eliminating identified hazards before they cause harm by implementing effective control measures, rather than
an approach of risk identification and analysis based on incidents that have already occurred.” There are many best practices that seem to just be best for the professional but not for the client. I believe this purple dot is one such practice. This purple dot comes attached with stigma and discrimination. Who really wants to be the client with the purple dot on their file?

I wouldn’t want anyone walking into a situation that could potentially be harmful but there needs to be awareness that what is called “best” is not always so.

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3 thoughts on “Identifying Violence in Healthcare

  1. Everything we (everyone) say and do is on file for anyone to read, forever, whenever. I am a “high risk” patient because of my suicidal thoughts and attempts, but having everything on file makes you a permanent mess with no room to grow. Wonder what color dot I have on file? The doctors make decisions thinking it is necessary to help us, when in the long run it is damaging. It keeps some of us stuck.
    I am not sure how I feel about it all. One part of me says, “it is just the way of the world and we will learn from this”. Another is paranoid that this will be used against all of us depending on the politics of the day.
    I try not to care about what’s in my file, but it angers me at the same time, especially when I hear things like this. We hear a lot of talk about eliminating stigma, but the fact is, that big dot is a permanent and blatant slap on the face. That shame you feel is hurtful/harmful and does not allow anyone to evolve in a healthy way unless you are able to let it go somehow, but I don’t know what “letting go” would look like.
    I’m sorry for anyone who is labeled with a color coded dot as a possible danger when it was possibly the drug and or an abusive partner. Big Pharm needs to take responsibility but they never will because they are in bed with just about everyone in power.
    I hope you are able to talk with your doctor about that dot. Maybe if she/he can see the connection to the drug and the time of your life, maybe she will take that dot off. They take an oath here in the USA to “do no harm”. This dot is harming you. Can you ask her to take it out?
    hang in there!

    • Yes! It’s the “permanent mess” you mention! No matter the growth the history is there.

      I luckily don’t have a dot. At least at my doctor’s office (Planned Parenthood) they only say “yes”.

      I never thought to ask if that could be removed. I think I will consider that or at least find out who has access to that information.

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