A Viral Video Spurred The #PatientsAreNotFaking Response

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy, Imani Barbarin/Twitter and D Rose/Twitter

The hashtag #PatientsAreNotFaking started flooding the internet recently in response to a viral TikTok video which depicts a nurse mocking a hyperventilating patient she believes to be “crying wolf.”

In the 15-second clip filmed and uploaded by former Vine content creator and nurse Danyelle Rose, a patient is featured in a hospital room experiencing shortness of breath, while her nurse dances and swings her stethoscope in a rodeo-motion to the beat of that patient’s breathing. The video then wraps itself up with the barbaric caption, “We know when y’all are faking. *insert crying face laughing emojis*”

Because apparently, there’s nothing more hilarious than making fun of the negligent encounters numerous patients have suffered and are still enduring at the hands of medical providers today (please tell me you can sense my sarcasm).

Following the negative responses from the video, disability blogger Imani Barbarin created the hashtag #PatientsAreNotFaking to clap back at the all-too-common misconception that patients may be “faking” their medical symptoms for their own personal gain.

“That video of the nurse dancing [and] not believing patients has stirred up a lot of trauma for many in the disabled community and BIPOC [black/indigenious/people of color] communities,” Barbarin says in a tweet. “People get killed because of that mentality. You did a whole video to tell us you’re bad at your job. #PatientsAreNotFaking.”

Here’s the truth: Patients often are not receiving adequate treatment based on a provider’s medical bias and emotions. The opinions of these biased providers, not proven medical facts, are denying medically frail individuals the treatment they deserve. Patients’ symptoms are being laughed off and referred to as “overdramatic” because not everyone physically expresses their medical ailment in the same manner or to the same degree, and it is literally killing people.

But sure, let’s laugh, dance and make a video about it at the expense of patients all over America.

The U.S. is a developed nation with the means to properly assess and treat our sick and injured people. Yet, this brief and insulting clip hits too close to home for so many. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in our country, with undiagnosed and misdiagnosed persons making up a fraction of this harrowing statistic. We need to understand that this is a sensitive topic because America’s negligence and the lack of empathy or understanding in the health care world has made it so.

We shouldn’t have to push for answers, but we do. We shouldn’t have to be our own advocate in the times we need someone else pushing for us the most, but we do. And we shouldn’t have to explain that #PatientsAreNotFaking, but clearly, we do. This is a colossal crisis for everyone, but even more so for the countless folks who are suffering, who died suffering, and who will continue to suffer while putting their faith into healthcare workers who did not reciprocate the same level of trust based off of some internal biases.

A medical professional’s tolerance for who they believe is sick and who they don’t believe is sick should not take greater priority over a patient’s needs. People are hurting, dammit. Physically hurting, some days writhing in pain, and being told it’s all “in their head” or that they are “drug-seeking.” Mentally hurting with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health issues and being told they are “dramatic” or “just wanting attention”.

How did we get here?

Even if these suspicions are aroused, caring for medically needy individuals and getting to the bottom of their symptoms is part of every physician’s Hippocratic Oath. It. Is. Their. Damn. Job.

From the hashtag Barbarin created, Twitter has exploded with testimonials from patients and their loved ones who were denied medical care due to a hospital, nurse, or doctor’s biased “beliefs.” Given that women and people of color are statistically more likely to suffer such negligence, it’s no surprise that they had valuable words to share about the dismissive care they’ve previously received.

A doctor’s office or the walls of an ER aren’t fun places to be, just as much as concerning medical symptoms are not a fun experience to live with. So why are doctors and nurses treating patients like they are wasting their oh-so-valuable time by “faking” an ailment? Who in the fresh hell wants to fake being sick or hurt? Patients discredit their symptoms enough on their own, without the added disbelief from health care professionals. If we can’t trust those who are supposed to treat us when we do seek care, what help is there for us?

We cannot safely self-diagnose ourselves.. We are being punished for ailments we don’t want, pain we want gone, knowledge we don’t possess, and for seeking medical help.

It’s true, patients aren’t faking, and based on social media’s response, I don’t think the people of Twitter will be requesting Rose as their nurse any time soon.

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