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ER Pediatrician recoils when crying woman hugs her; staff is angry. AITA? UPDATED 2X

ER Pediatrician recoils when crying woman hugs her; staff is angry. AITA? UPDATED 2X


When this pediatrician is freaked out by an upset patient, she asks Reddit:

"AITA for recoiling when a crying woman hugged me?"

I (34F) am a pediatrician, I work 24-hour ER shifts at a hospital. Last night a 5-year-old was brought in because of a severe anaphylactic reaction, he could hardly breathe and was all swollen up.

We administered adrenaline right away and the child started getting better, so we moved on to the next part of the treatment. I went to explain what we did to the mother, who brought him in, and as I told her her son was okay, she started tearing up.

I'm super awkward so I don't always know what to do, so I rubbed her back to comfort her, and she unexpectedly hugged me. I recoiled in shock for a second, but managed to relax and awkwardly hugged her back.

Then the boy was hospitalized and I went to check on him, and the mom apologized for hugging me, that it was inappropriate. I said that it was okay, she was scared for her kid, I get it.

Then I left the room and a bunch of colleagues and the nurses started giving me sh&t for recoiling away from her hug, that it was insensitive and stuck-up to do that to a scared parent, and that I clearly made the woman uncomfortable from rejecting her hug, even though it was all of the sudden and my reaction was just instinct. AITA?

UPDATE 1: I wasn’t clear enough. I was on call in the ER, the hugging happened in the ER, and the mother later apologized in the inpatient pediatrics area. That’s when colleagues, who work in inpatient, started giving me sh&& when they heard I had recoiled. They didn’t see it. My team in the ER didn’t say anything about it.

UPDATE 2: The “back rubbing” was like a pat-pat on the back of her shoulder. (English is not my first language.)

Let's see what readers thought.

pollaroid writes:

NAH, but it sounds like your bedside manner could use some work. In medicine in general but especially in pediatrics emotions run high and sometimes people want a hug.

I get that it was an automatic response so you are N T A and you should only do what you are comfortable with but allowing for a more personal connection with patients might serve you better in the future.

silentlanguage7 writes:

NAH. Mom was in shock and just glad their child was okay. She was just grateful and likely hugged you without thinking. I’ve been in the same situation as her, thinking my then toddler might not make it due to an anaphylactic reaction- the relief I felt after it was clear he was going to be alright was overwhelming. I’d have hugged anyone at that point.

You didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe just try to understand your patients’ emotional state more and know they’re going to have all sorts of reactions to being in an ER. It’s a scary place and no one really wants to have to go there.

Perhaps that will help prepare you for those hugs and different responses you’re going to see. Med schools do not always do a great job to teaching bedside manner, just something you learn.

doggomama writes:

NTA.. a lot of Dr's/hospital workers etc... have poor bedside manners, you're good at fixing people but that doesn't necessarily mean you're a people person. I find people in a medical profession to be more factual than sympathetic and its fine to be that way.

I feel like the mum was just overcome with happiness for a sec but sounds like she realised you're not a 'hugger' and probably got over quite quickky. I honestly wouldn't worry about it too much.. just tell the people you work with to piss off, the kid was alright and thats all that matters. not the hug you gave the mum.

Readers think that OP is NTA. Any advice for her?

Sources: Reddit
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