Children’s Nurse Maturely Handles Differing Opinion By Calling A Mom ‘Loser’ Via Note

Nothing gets a heated debate started at Mommyish more than bringing up immunizations. It’s just ones of those hot button issues that everyone seems to have a strong opinion about. I’ve made my opinion clear a number of times, I think immunizations are important, but I also think it’s important to respect a parent’s right to make that choice for their child. (*Clarification – respect doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t disagree or even judge; I think it’s important to discuss this subject in a respectful way ie: no name calling or abuse). Apparently a nurse at one hospital doesn’t have the same respect, and the note she left about a patient is simply baffling. Yay professionalism!

Katie Smart, a young mother from South Carolina found a nasty surprise in her 9-month-old son’s room at Palmetto Health children’s Hospital. She was there with her son to deal with a high fever, which is indicated on the note, but that’s not the only thing the nurse wrote down. She also wrote the word “Loser!” with a (poorly drawn, in my opinion) frowny face. So mature!

As I mentioned before, I don’t personally agree with Smart’s decision not to vaccinate, but that is besides the point. The choice is between her, her husband and her pediatrician. One might argue that as a healthcare professional, the nurse has a right to an opinion as well, but voicing that opinion through an elementary-level note is NOT the way to go about it. What is she, 10?

The hospital was quick to try to put this fire out. COO James Lantham claims that their hospital has a “core value of dignity.” Because calling a parent a loser via note rather than discuss an important medical issue is SO dignified. Thankfully the nurse in question has been reprimanded and is currently on suspension. While I don’t think she should lose her job, I do hope that the hospital sends this her to sensitivity training, because her bedside manner sucks.

Share This Post:
    • http://carrie-murphy.com/ Carrie Murphy

      Man. I just can’t believe how unprofessional some people can be. Aside from the immunization issue, you can file “Writing insults on notes while at your place of employment” under THINGS TO DO NEVER.

    • Blueathena623

      The nurse should not have written loser on the note, but I don’t understand the idea of having to respect a parent’s right to refuse vaccines. I don’t respect people who do that, especially when the video states the mom “researched” the ingrediants. If by “respecting their right” you mean “health professionals don’t secretly give the kids vaccines when the parents backs are turned” then I agree, but if respecting their right means that people, especially medical professionals, can’t be upset? You lost me. The “loser” was unprofessional and rude. I wish the nurse had been willing to talk to her face to face and be polite but firm. Not that the mom would change her mind, but so the nurse would know she tried her best.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        “I wish the nurse had been willing to talk to her face to face” THIS is exactly my opinion. I didn’t mean “respect,” as in “accept,” more as in don’t write immature notes behind her back and be a jerk. I think a respectful conversation about it would have done a lot more good. You’re right, the nurse probably wouldn’t have changed her mind, but that note certainly won’t do the trick.

      • Blueathena623

        Agreed. Its just that I see the term “respect parenting choices” so often used as a code phrase for “no one is allowed to judge me.” But I judge, hard, in certain circumstances.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        You have a great point. I try to reserve my judgment for serious cases (ie: not things like breast milk over formula etc) but this is one of those subjects that I do have a strong opinion about. I think the key is to educate rather than antagonize (not that you’re doing that, I mean in general). I see so many heated arguments and I don’t think it does any good.

      • ElleJai

        I’ve always wondered if these parents research their food as thoroughly. You have more of that over time and a lot of it appears to be toxic.

      • JLH1986

        The answer to that would be: No. They will hand their kid whatever convenient food and move on. I’ve seen on several boards where people have asked this exact question and this was the response almost every time (one parent was like shit! I must research food) but 9/10 were “Why should I the FDA monitors food! I don’t need to research my food or my kids.” Yep. that happened.

      • ElleJai

        Aaand this is why I don’t respect non-vaxxing. The poster parents are hypocritical, undereducated, idiots.

        There are legitimate reasons to not vaccinate (albeit usually medical), or to delay vaccines, but don’t spout propaganda at me invented by non medical doctors, or bang on about it causing autism (it doesn’t and I work with autistic spectrum kids). Especially if you give your child hormones, dyes, corn syrup and assorted chemicals on a daily basis, you don’t get to talk to me about child health issues.

        You don’t have to puree your own food (organic) 24/7 but if you’re not at least aware that it’s present and not good for you then your “research” skills are under par.

    • Angela

      The note was completely unprofessional and inappropriate. However I totally disagree that the choice to vaccinate is solely between the parents and the pediatrician. The decision affects the entire community so I think the community has every right to weigh in.

      • Mikster

        The community was not the one who had to care for my oldest son when this DTP (whole cell) vaccines left him with severe brain damage in 1987 after they caused an encephalytic reaction. For the rest of his life, he had progressing cortical atrophy, severe spastic quadriparesis, was inambulatory, non-verbal, had constrictures of his joints that already necessitated 2 adductor tenotomies and the hip osteotomy that led to his death from septic shock. Had he lived long, we would have needed countless more orthopedic surgeries, a g or j tube, etc. Our insurance would have capped at $1M and we would have faced what countless other families of children with severe disabilities faced: plunging their families into poverty, spending down assets, just to get health care through Medicaid. I could not work as he needed 24/7 care and was often too ill to attend special school. So, if the community has a right to force those parents who do not want their children vaccinated to be vaccinated, then those communities better step up to the plate, and cover 100% of the damages in health care costs, respite care for the family, durable medical equipment and life insurance when they die.
        Adding: we had 3 more children. We researched and thought hard. They all received their DTP and DTaP vaccines. In fact, all are up-to-date with the exception of Gardisil. But I would never force people to choose risks that can be deadly.

      • Blueathena623

        I am sorry about your son, but “weigh in” is not the same as “force”.

      • Mikster

        Then define exactly what type of weighing in was meant, and how much authority is granted to that input. Because, in all honesty, the vaccines a person receives is between the patient and their physician, and, with privacy standards in strict c0ontrol, the school district so that those who are un/undervaccinated for a particular outbreak and kept from attending the schools until the outbreak has passed. Beyond that, it’s nuniya, and the *weighing in* would have to violate privacy in order to be rendered.

      • Blueathena623

        Well, this lady took her story to a local news station and made it public.
        I’m not advocating McCarthy era tactics, but there is this serious undercurrent of “don’t you dare say anything about my parenting choices”. No, I’m going to say something. I’m going to encourage people. I’m going to give them information that counters their wrong information. And I’m going to tell people they are wrong. Because seriously, people don’t do that anymore. There is a cult of “respecting” and thinking that opinions have the same weight as facts.
        And again, I am very sorry for your son, and I do know that there are risks of adverse reactions, but 99.999999% of anti-vaxers don’t have your understanding. The fact that you continued to vaccinate your children makes me idolize you and hope that I would have the same strength as you do if something happened to my kid. Seriously, I am in awe.

      • Mikster

        No awe needed- I’m so very freaking human, LOL. But thank you for your kindness.

      • Rachel Sea

        The problem with that policy is that it’s not just the by-choice un-vaccinated kids who are in danger, and outbreaks can last months, so immune compromised kids would be barred from school, because others made bad choices. Plus, not every person maintains an antibody load high enough to combat infection, and they depend upon herd immunity, same as people who can’t get vaccinated. Even total school closures (which are common in the case of serious outbreaks) don’t prevent deaths as well as high vaccination rates.

        Choosing not to vaccinate a child, and thereby causing an outbreak that results in permanent injury or death should be criminal.

      • Mikster

        Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree, as I feel forcing medical procedures and the attendant risks on a person against their will, or their guardian/parent’s will is felony assault. You’d have to incarcerate me before I’d permit the government to forcibly vaccinate anyone in my family with Gardisil or Ceverix.

      • Rachel Sea

        I’m not suggesting forcing vaccinations, but I do think that people who choose not to vaccinate against air and surface borne pathogens (which doesn’t include HPV) should have to home school.

      • Mikster

        For Gardisil as well? How about each person and kid take charge of their own genitals, LOL. And, you do realize the Japanase government has abandoned its recommendations for Gardisil?
        http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806645
        In any case, every child is entitled to a public school education. Unless those districts are willing to send tutors to the home for those kids- not going to work.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        I am so sorry for your troubles. It’s cases like yours that make me wish more people would be willing to have a respectful conversation about this subject, because you never know what kind of personal hell someone is going through.

      • Mikster

        Thank YOU for your kind and thoughtful response.
        To be honest, I was very pro-vax, even after my son suffered the damage that he did. But lately, when I see the industry that pharmaceuticals has become, and then see all of the drugs they put out with little testing and in some cases, with adverse reactions kept from the public- and then also see things like a created need for multiple chicken ox vaccines (Varivax), and increase in shingles due to the lack of community boosting via benign exposure to wild chicken pox, so now you need a Shingles vaccine- I begin to mistrust that the pharmaceuticals are creating beneficial vaccines that will do more good than harm, but rather creating a need for more and more products that they stand to make a huge profit from.

      • Rachel Sea

        There is no such thing as benign exposure. Chicken pox can cause multiple organ failure, brain damage, and death. If the chicken pox vaccine had existed in 1991, my father would not be permanently disabled now.

      • Mikster

        Yes. Each person who had chicken pox, recovered and gained immunity was a case of benign exposure. And as they grew up and had children and their children contracted chicken pox, the adults immunity was once again benignly boosted through the community exposure. The rise in shingles incidence now- and believe me, it’s going to get worse- is due to the lack of that benign community boosting that used to occur.

        I am well aware of what chicken pox can do for the immune-compromised. Our ped put our disabled son at the top of the list for it once it was approved. Sadly, he died about 9 months before it was [approved]. However, the vaccine should be reserved for THOSE people and not the community at large, IMHO.

        And to go tit for tat- my son would likely be alive were it not for the DTP vaccine.

      • Rachel Sea

        You don’t get to know before you get sick whether you will recover unscathed. My dad had chicken pox as a kid, but his antibody load was insufficient, and though he was a very healthy adult, he contracted it a second time, so that he is now a brain damaged epileptic.

        I knew kids growing up who had to be hospitalized for chicken pox, one of whom had to get a liver transplant because his was so scarred. One of my friends has an artificial valve, and tachycardia because of chicken pox.

        It’s better that people have to get a chicken pox vaccine, and a shingles vaccine than face the consequences of the disease.

        The DTP vaccine made me sick when I was a baby, though I recovered. The vaccine that hurt your son, and I no longer exists. New vaccines have much lower injury rates than the old ones did.

      • Angela

        I can see where it might have come across that way but I in no way meant that I wanted to force anyone to vaccinate. It’s just that in regards to most parenting decisions (natural home birth vs planned C section, working vs SAHP, etc) it’s totally the parent’s decision and everyone else should butt out. But I feel that vaccines are different because it does involve an entire community. I’m very, very sorry about your son but choosing not to vaccinate involves deadly risks as well, for others as well as for yourself. My own son got pertussis as an infant before he was old enough to get the vaccine. He contracted it at his pediatrician’s office from an older, unvaccinated child. Thankfully my son did fully recover. However another parent’s decision did unnecessarily risk the life of my son and I feel that gives me the right to speak up and weigh in.

      • Mikster

        So you wouldn’t force vaccination, correct?

      • Angela

        No, although I wouldn’t oppose requiring vaccination to attend public school except for cases of medical exemptions.

      • Mikster

        Well, I have to support religious and philosophical exemptions as well, with the caveat that in the case of an outbreak, those un/under-vaccinated cannot attend.
        For instance, take Gardasil: I would not let them touch my kids with that vaccine, and even the Japanese government has now told people to quit using it. To forcibly vaccinate my children with that- well, I’d consider that assault. So I extend the same rights to other parents.

      • ElleJai

        I’ve had gardasil and my kids will get it before there’s any chance of being sexually active. Boys as well as girls. If vaccinations were available for more sexually transmitted diseases they’d get those too. There is less risk from a vaccine than from the disease itself. Note I said “less” not “none”.

        I think gardasil is being unfairly demonised. Here in Australia we handed them out at school and I’m unaware of anyone who reacted badly.

        Also, I’m terribly sorry you had to go through that with your son. And I agree that the government should certainly step up to help in cases such as your family’s.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        I agree. My point was more along the lines of respectfully addressing the issue, not accepting the choice (especially if the person in question is a medical professional). Edit- Just wanted to add that I included a clarification just now to make my point more clear, sorry for any confusion!)

    • Alicia Kiner

      Does the fact that the child not been vaccinated have anything to do with why the child had a fever? If not, then why was it important?? I wish I had asked more questions of my pediatrician and spread out the vaccinations a bit, simply because that first year, they get a TON of shots. I realize it’s the recommended schedule, it’s a lot to cram into that short period of time. That being said, I fully support vaccines.

      • ElsieP

        It may be relevant that the child was not vaccinated – when a child comes in with a high fever and has not received the appropriate vaccines there are many more tests (often more invasive) to rule out conditions that this child is at risk for, that a vaccinated child is not.

      • Blueathena623

        Yup, the kid came in for a sprained ankle, and medical professionals realized he was running a high fever. Since the mom apparently didn’t even realize he was sick, I’m sure they had to run a lot of tests.

      • lea

        If you had asked the question though- hopefully your paediatrician would have been educated enough to answer that although the number of communicable diseases vaccinated against has grown, the load on the immune system is far less than in the past.

        So say in the past a vaccine against virus X would have contained 300 antigens for the body to recognise and make a response against. Over time, scientists realised that only 10 of those were needed to produce a protective immunity and the other 290 removed.

        Then a combination vaccine of virus X, Y and Z, and bacteria B were added together to make one of our newer vaccines. All fine tuned over time. So the load on the infant immune system is only 40 antigens, protecting against 4 conditions. As opposed to 300 against 1 condition.

        Hope that makes sense, and makes you feel a bit better about the number of vaccinations your child got in the first year :)

      • Alicia Kiner

        I absolutely LOVE our pediatrician, to the point that we were considering moving two hours away, and I decided driving back here to see him was worth it. He would have answered if I had any questions, I just did what he said. Other than having cranky babies for a few hours, they didn’t have any reactions.

    • Muggle

      A nurse was rude to a parent and this is news why? People are unprofessional, inappropriate, and rude all the time even on the job. Why the fuck does everyone need to go to the media for every slight?

      Oh, right, parents need to have their fragile egos stroked by invoking the righteous wrath of the masses. Argh. This is prime anti-vax fodder and this idiot mom knows it.

      • Emil

        This is what I was thinking, but I prefer “I’m going to the media” threat to the “I’m suing” threat. I wonder how many calls “the media” gets daily about people being assholes.

      • Rachel Sea

        Media outlet receptionist must be an insane job. I now want to seek out people in that role and invite them to cocktail parties.

      • Blueathena623

        Right? I mean, really. I almost want them to do handwriting analysis to see if actually she wrote it. After reading some stories about how some of the more infamous credit card receipt comments (like the patron supposedly left a nasty message for the server) news stories are actually false, its getting hard to believe this.

      • Emil

        Very true, unless the nurse very much wanted to be permanently unemployed (after many years of nursing school), it really does not make sense that she would write this.

      • Blueathena623

        Based on a very interesting photo on her Facebook, I am skeptical. Need to find handwriting samples.

      • Muggle

        ooooo, she has a public facebook with a picture of her handwriting? :D I had a feeling it could be fake.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        I never considered that. Since they reprimanded a nurse, I’m hoping it’s not fake, or some poor nurse is in trouble for nothing!

      • Peggy

        “I almost want them to do handwriting analysis to see if actually she wrote it”

        Interesting point. I didn’t consider that when reading the article.

      • JLH1986

        I can’t understand how these things end up news. Did mom call? did another nurse? did a friend of mom’s call?

      • Muggle

        It’s like that article a few months back about the girl who got called fat by a clerk at Rue 21. That’s completely out of line, sure, but why the hell is a teenage/college-aged clerk being bitchy news-worthy? Who goes to the media with this shit?

        It bugs me, because this starts off at the local news level and then attracts the attention of the bigger, nation, 24-hour news networks, which you’d think would have more pressing issues to worry about than a nurse being a snot to an anti-vax parent. Even the local news has more pressing issues. I remember so much utter bullshit happening in my public school district, but the local news media would focus instead on fuzzy-wuzzy stories about military families or weird news from everywhere else in my state.

    • Joye77

      As a nurse I can honestly say that I would never, ever leave a note for a patient’s family that stated “loser”. Oh, but I have thought it many times. I’m no saint. One of the most difficult things I find about being a nurse is dealing with family members, I have dealt with wonderful ones and a whole bunch of crazy ones.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        I was raised by a nurse, so trust me, I’m certain that the vast, vast majority of nurses would never do something this unprofessional.

      • Rachel Sea

        It only takes one. I had a nurse call me a stupid baby for moaning and sobbing when she was 2 hours late with pain meds, and a doctor yell at me for being a sissy because I didn’t hold still while he was giving me 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree friction burns with a cast saw.

      • ElleJai

        I’m horrified that this happened to you and I really hope you complained to the hospital (or other employer) about such unprofessional behaviour (and the incompetence of that doctor).

      • Rachel Sea

        I tried to but I was ignored. I’ll never go to that hospital again as long as I live. I’d rather bleed to death in the street than be tortured. Those two incidents were only the tip of the iceberg, and I had PTSD when they were done with me.

    • Allen

      I think there’s a difference between respecting someone and *behaving* in a respectful, professional manner. I don’t think the nurse (or anyone else) is obligated to respect someone’s choice not to vaccinate their kids. If you think their choice is harming their kids/the community, then you don’t respect that choice. But you can feel that way without being rude or unprofessional.

    • aliceblue

      Not that it makes it any more professional but I doubt that the nurse was referring to the helpless infant but the mother. Is she so incapable of admitting she can do something wrong that she assumes it is directed to the baby, or does she think that insulting a baby would get her better press?

      • Blueathena623

        If the message were for the baby, it would be ” lose her” not loser

    • Yves

      How do they know that the nurse wrote the note? I’m just curious.

      Also, I am a nurse and I secretly think parents who don’t vaccinate are selfish because of their exposing unvaxed infants to pointless viruses, set their kids up for terrible diseases, and get their “research” from biased internet blogs.So yep, I judge and think you’re wrong. But I still show basic respect by not being nasty about it. I would never tell them that I think that, especially unsolicited. I don’t even engage them in convos about vaccination unless I am quoting state law or known fact, and I don’t say anything that is subjective regarding vaccination even when they try to carry on subjective conversations, for the sake of keeping things professional. I also don’t want a crazy parent saying I was mean, nasty, unprofessional, etc. Because yes there are a lot of crazy parents out there – vaxers and nonvaxers a like lol.