A doctor in a Belgian hospital has caused a furore after being the only staff member not to treat a young female patient with extreme hostility and aggression for having the sheer audacity to turn up requiring treatment for a sprained foot.
Dr Russo, 31, has been temporarily suspended from duty for gently telling 33-year-old Jasmine Sole that she had ‘done the right thing’ by coming to the hospital even though her injury was not life-threatening, examining her swelled foot without yanking or bashing it, and fetching her some painkillers. However, reports that he went so far as to smile kindly at her remain as yet unconfirmed.
‘Other staff members followed protocol and were rude, unhelpful and aggressive, bordering on violent,’ a spokesman for the hospital in Brussels told the Inconsequential News. ‘Dr Russo has disgraced the hospital with his behaviour. We spend huge amounts on training courses for staff such as ‘How to bully and manipulate people in pain into enforced acceptance of sub-standard service,’ and ‘Removing all traces of compassion from your bedside manner; you’re a bitter, disillusioned, underpaid and overtired health professional who is gagging for a fag break, not a fucking therapist.’ In these times of economic hardship, we are shocked to hear of a staff member wasting costly minutes on gratuitous activities such as pain relief, kind words and smiling.’
Protocol of unkindness
A nurse who was on duty on the night Sole was treated said things had been running smoothly until Russo’s intervention. When Sole wandered directly onto the accident and emergency ward as the reception had been left unattended, she was shouted at by a nurse. Despite the fact she was hobbling and clearly in pain, the nurse refrained from offering her a chair and told her with an appropriate degree of unpleasantness that she had to go back to the reception and wait. Subsequently, Sole sat down on a nearby stool and told the nurse she could not walk that far again; the outraged nurse then brought a wheelchair and pushed Sole back to reception – huffing and tutting the whole time as she had been trained to do.
Following procedure to the letter, when another nurse returned to fetch Sole, he called her name from ten yards away and dutifully ignored the fact she was in a wheelchair, thereby saving time and energy when a fellow patient offered to wheel Sole back onto the ward. However, it was at this point that things took a turn for the worse – with Dr Russo’s shocking display of benevolence.
‘He was the first person at the hospital to show me any hint of basic human kindness,’ Sole told the IN. ‘He examined my foot gently, reassured me I would shortly be taken to X-ray and that he would bring me something for the pain.’
She added: ‘He looked almost guilty as he was being nice to me – as if he were afraid to be caught.’
Cash for crutches: no regrets
The situation temporarily returned to normal as the radiologist took Sole on a rollercoaster ride through the corridors of the hospital by pulling her wheelchair at terrifying speed while talking to a friend about his drinking plans for the next evening on his mobile phone – making sure to bump the chair over every ridge or join in the flooring as violently as possible.
But when the results of Sole’s X-ray scan came through, Dr Russo persisted in his inappropriately considerate behaviour.
‘The doctor came to tell me that my foot wasn’t broken, it was just a sprain, but he wanted to put it in a cast anyway to stop me moving around too much,’ Sole explained. ‘However, I would need crutches to walk if I had a cast on my foot; the doctor explained that according to hospital policy, crutches could only be given to patients who could pay 20 euros for them on the spot. I told Dr Russo I had no cash on me, so he went to ask the nurses if I could pay by card, but they told him this wasn’t possible. I expressed my shock that a hospital in a first-world country could operate such a system, and he apologised.’
The hospital spokesman told the IN that apologising for the crutches policy was strictly forbidden, and could lead to Russo’s permanent dismissal from the hospital.
In the end, Sole and Russo agreed that since she was unable to pay for the crutches and therefore her foot could not be put in a cast, she would simply have to manage with a bandage, painkillers and plenty of rest, and she hobbled off.
‘I think the main problem with Dr Russo is that he isn’t Belgian,’ said the hospital spokesman. ‘It’s part of our culture to be mean-spirited, rude and unhelpful and to show a sometimes astonishing lack of compassion, as well as to cover up our own startling levels of incompetency by attacking and blaming the client, I mean patient. But since Dr Russo is Italian, he has a very loose grasp of these concepts.’
Dr Russo declined to comment, but a close friend of the doctor told the IN: ‘I probably shouldn’t say this, but he’s a really nice guy.’