Consumer Blame

Two things came to my attention today that made me think about how ironic it is that the medical system “lets” or doesn’t “let” women do so many things with regard to pregnancy and birth care and yet if something goes wrong, the locus of control shifts suddenly and it is now her fault for the situation. I see this often with things like “failure to progress”—”she’s just not dilating”—and even with fetal heart decelerations (“the baby just isn’t cooperating”). With induction—”her body just isn’t going to go into labor on its own”—and with pain relief—”she’s just not able to cope anymore” (yes, but is she also restrained on her back and denied food and drink?!). There are other ugly terms associated with women’s health that blame the “victim” as well such as “incompetent cervix” and “irritable uterus” and even “miscarriage” (and its even uglier associate, “spontaneous abortion.” And then for women with recurrent pregnancy losses we have the lovely, woman honoring term, “habitual aborter.” EXCUSE me?!). And then today, via The Unnecesarean, I read about a doctor inducing “labor” and then performing a cesarean on a non-pregnant woman.

Okay wow. So much could be said about that, but the kicker for me is that the woman was blamed—“The bottom line is the woman convinced everybody she was pregnant.” Huh?! So random surgery is totally acceptable if the person is “convincing” enough? What happened to diagnosing something first? Or, for taking responsibility for an inaccurate diagnosis?

The final thing that happened is that I got a completely unexpected refund check for over $400 today from my own local medical care system. While I’m not complaining about $400 that I thought I’d seen the last of, I had to shake my head in disbelief at the reason for the refund—”you overpaid”—excuse me, but I think the real reason is, “you overcharged me.” I checked back through my bills and I paid what I was billed (which, now that I think about, did seem like a heck of a lot for services NOT-rendered. If I had been in less of a state of grief and shock perhaps I would have questioned it more!), but now it has become “my fault” (in a sense) by switching the language to my overpaying vs. them overcharging.

What interesting dynamics these are…

3 thoughts on “Consumer Blame

  1. That is a VERY interesting point. I see a lot of truth in it. A lot of care providers don’t want their patients to be informed consumers. They want to “take care” of them in their own ways. But you are so right about how it changes if something goes wrong. The wording and the attitudes portray it is then the moms fault.

  2. Pingback: Wordweaving | Talk Birth

  3. Pingback: Tuesday Tidbits: Speaking Birth | Talk Birth

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