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amcate posted:
I had a situation come up at work, and want to start a new thread to see if you all had any thoughts about it.

I aspirated some water, so had an attack. Those attacks are normally mild and don't deteriorate. So, I cough as much water out as I can, then take rescue medicines. At first, I was unable to talk due to bronchospasms and coughing, and my coworkers laughed at me and said some jokes. Then, enough water came up that the attacks calmed some, and I said that I was having an attack. They then asked me a bunch of questions and laughed. I needed to focus on my lungs, so went to the bathroom which was close by. The inhaler was in my purse, which was on the other side of where my coworkers were. They were not intentionally blocking my access. I was in the bathroom and coughing up as much water as I could, then when I realized I could cough up no more water, I came out and the coworkers were gone. So, I went to my purse and took the rescue drugs. I informed my manager and respiratory therapy about this. I work in a hospital. In fairness to my coworkers, they do not have a license in an area that would cover asthma a great deal. Also, I do not know what their intent was or if I misunderstood their intent. I was too busy trying to get my lungs to open. My manager spoke with all of them, and assures me it will not happen again and that all involved feel badly about what happened. My family requests I have the people trained by myself and respiratory therapy and get it documented with their signatures and date in case something happens to me in the future due to their unsafe response. I have passed along what my family requests. I do not think a job is worth my safety, and I don't know if I should return. These are not people I can avoid. They are the team that I am a part of and I have to work closely with them. I struggle to know how I work with people who I don't feel physically safe around and who I now do not trust. My manager reiterates that there is no way they are going to do the same thing due to actions he took. It was a mild attack, but I am worried that what if next time it is a severe attack? The coworkers want to talk to me, but I only responded by letting them know of my family's request. I've had moderate to severe persistent asthma for 12 years, and I've worked in hospitals for 12 years. I have had poor responses by coworkers before, but none that was this extreme. Once, coworkers laughed until they saw me get my rescue meds out, then they stopped laughing and asked if I was okay. Another time, I had an attack while working in ICU. I don't carry my spacer with me, but used my MDI. I then tried to leave to go to my office to redo with spacer. The RT kept me hostage in the ICU, not wanting me to be alone, and called for a spacer to be delivered. Her actions delayed me getting medicine in with the spacer by about 5 or 10 minutes, but it was not terribly unsafe since she was watching me and I feel confident she would have started a neb if I got worse. Let me know if you all have any thoughts. Thanks.
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amcate responded:
I don't know why, but it posted it twice. I don't know how to delete the other thread. If anyone knows, please let me know.

The situation at work has affected me a great deal, with me becoming rather depressed. I don't know how to deal with it.
 
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amcate responded:
It started two threads, but I only meant for one to start. If anyone knows how to delete the other thread, let me know.

The situation at work has really depressed me and affected me psychologically. I've never had anything that extreme.

I also tried to put this post up before, but now it doesn't show. I don't know.

Thanks.
 
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sgbl88 responded:
Hi, don't worry about the duplicate post, the regulars know they happen and ignor them. I will "Report" the other post as a duplicate and the moderators will remove it for you. In the future, just click on report, select "Other" and explain that it was a duplicate in the text box.

I am so surprised at how rude medical workers can be about asthma. There are several people in the community that work in the medical field and have issues with co-worker rudeness regarding their asthma care and needs.

It sounds like the RT is helpful. It was probably better for you to sit and rest instead of hurrying to your locker for you inhaler.

You may want to talk to your doctor about trying Maxair. It has a build in spacer. I will not use an inhaler without a spacer. I was in situation where I really needed to use my inhaler but would try to avoid it because of the obvious spacer. Maxair has worked beautifully for me and is much more discrete. Maxair would also allow you to carry your inhaler in a pocket so that you are not caught without it again.

I think you should talk with your co-workers. Everyone deserves a second chance. I am sure that your manager gave them a good tongue lashing. Maybe they want to appologize? Give them a chance now that the manager has talked to them. They may react totally differently next time. There is also the possiblity that you miss understood your co-workers laughter. They could of been laughing at a joke you didn't hear, at you "swallowing wrong" or some other similar thing. I am sure that they wouldn't have laughed if they had known that you were having an asthma attack and were in danger.

Thanks for sharing. I feel very blessed by having the co-workers and bosses that I have. A year ago I was looking for a job, but I really didn't think I would be able to keep a job because I was getting sick far too often (every four weeks). I have had a job for 7 1/2 months. I have only missed work time twice because of my asthma. Once, I was sick and needed to see the doctor but not so sick that I didn't feel up to working. I took time off for a doctor's appointment. The other was pure ashtma triggered by contrsuction dust and fumes from down the hall and I felt HORRIBLE and left work early.

My boss is great as his wife is severely sensitive to fragrances like I am, but he doesn't understand an asthmatic's need to avoid triggers. The owner of the company is sensitive to that need. I haven't told him that I have asthma, but he was doing some remodling and moved my desk once. The drawer with my inhaler fell on the floor, so of course he saw my inhaler. Later, when construction of an addition to the building was being done and I brought an air purifier in he asked if it was to help with my breathing problems. He is now planning a third construction project in my area (constructing walls to enclose my office and divide another area into "cubicals" of sort). I asked where I would be during construction and explained that I am concerned about dust and fume exposure so close to me. He said that he would move me somewhere else temporarilly.

The only problem I have had is people not understanding that if you have allergies you don't want windows open. Friday was simply gorgeous here, although we did have 30-40 mph wind gusts with a cold front moving in. Everyone wanted their windows open for fresh air. I really don't blame them, but I felt terrible as a result (my worst pollen allergy season is now). When my office is inclosed I will be able to close my door and turn on my air purifier.

I hope that things get better for you.

Take care and
God bless.
Sonya
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end... Ye shall seek me, and find [me]
 
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Amelia_WebMD_Staff responded:
I'm so sorry that this happened to you, amcate.

Whether someone has asthma or any other illness, it is important for the people who surround us to understand the seriousness as well as our action plans. It is very possible that these coworkers had no clue that you were in such a horrifying situation and meant no harm, but that needs to change.

Here is a great article on the importance and measures that one should consider with Finding Asthma Support: Groups, School, Work and more . I hope this helps to give you some ideas as to what to inform coworkers of and you may consider printing the article out and handing to them as well.

Take care of yourself!
Amelia
- Asthma doesn't seem to bother me anymore, unless I'm around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar. - Steve Allen
 
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amcate replied to sgbl88's response:
Thank you, Sonya. I know I may have misunderstood them. The history with the PT is that when I've tried to teach her about asthma, she generally is not open to learn. I know they did not know I was in trouble at first, at least not until I could tell them. The concern is what if it's a more severe attack, and I can't tell them, and they just joke and laugh. I've been angry, and so have not spoken much to them. I probably have not been very kind when I have, but it was scary.

I told them that the best way was for me and RT to teach them, and then document that they learned some basic things. We would cover things like general emergency management, and I could show them the inhaler, the spacer, the portable nebulizer, as well as talk about the seriousness of an attack that is not clearing with bronchodialator treatment. My family had also requested this so they could have some documentation that the coworkers knew what they were doing if something similar happens again and I get harmed and my family has to take care of me (for example, if I got anoxic brain injury). Of course, my family would only do something if the coworkers failed to follow my instructions by doing something stupid like hiding my rescue meds from me. I have bad asthma, so sometimes even with an appropriate response I could die. I decided to error on the side of my own safety, and made the request to my coworkers and my manager. All I know is that my manager said the coworkers were refusing to get any education. I emailed one of them today to verify what he said about them was true.

The manager decided to fire me. I assume it was because of liability concerns, so I emailed him letting him know of my impression. But of course, I don't know why or how they decided to not educate the coworkers and to decide to get rid of me. It was somewhat predictable.

I don't know why educating them and documenting it was a problem.

One of my other coworkers, a friend of mine, said that she thought I needed counseling. In a sense, she is right. It would be nice to have a support group in person. Or, to see someone who has experience counseling people with asthma who have to deal with those who are ignorant about it. My friend said, "no, not to counsel you because you have to deal with those who don't know asthma, but because you took the incident so personally." I agreed with her that the response was big on my part, but I also said, "I have coworkers who know I have ashtma. They recognized I was in respiratory distress. They said, 'hey you, do you need the Heimlich manuever or something' and they laughed and looked at me. Once I could tell them, they asked me questions and laughed. I don't know what they were thinking or why they did that. I don't assume malicious intent. You know the rest of the story. My concern is what if next time it is a severe attack, and they make it hard for me to open my lungs up? I've never seen people react that way, even people with no medical training. I do have a valid concern, and that's why I want to do some education with them." It sounded like she was saying that it was completely my emotional issues, and none of it had to do with the coworkers. I just want them to get some education about asthma, but they refuse.

Thanks about the information about the other inhaler. The hospital I was working at is a small place, and so the rescue meds are always within 5 minutes. I never anticipated people would respond like that, as people normally don't. In larger hospitals, I take the inhaler, and leave the spacer in the office. I will take the inhaler while I walk to the office, then redo with the spacer. If I'm in an exacerbation, I will take the portable neb on the unit with me as the mouthpieces are covered by the carrying case. It's never been a problem before, but I will consider what you suggested in light of this incident. I think the plan I have is good, but carrying it directly on me is even better.
 
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amcate replied to Amelia_WebMD_Staff's response:
The problem in this situation is that I have tried in the past to let the PT know about asthma and what I do in an emergency. She typically responds by arguing with me and telling me I'm wrong. She'll say things like, "what is the big deal? You don't need to do anything. It's just asthma. You over exagerate things. Why would you need medicine?" I'm not saying she has actually said this word for word, but she has said very similar things.

I have tried before this happened to let the PT, who was the only licensed person in the room, know that people who don't get to their rescue meds in time can end up with anoxic brain injury, and that I have treated such people in rehabilitation in nursing homes I've worked in. I also know an ICU nurse who treated someone who went to the mountains without any medicine, had an attack, and they revived her, but she ended up in a persistant vegetative state and she was young. She just says, "oh, it't not a big deal. You would be fine without rescue meds. It's just asthma."

You are right, I don't think they were acting with malicious intent, and it was a mild attack. I agree that the situation of their ignorance about asthma needs to change. My family wanted the education to be documented so that they could prove the PT was educated on asthma. I tried to get the situation to change by doing some formal education. They are refusing. I could give them a sheet explaining things, but from what my manager says, the coworkers are refusing to learn anything.

Of course, I don't know for sure that they were refusing. I only know my manager said they were. So, I emailed them directly to verify it.

I normally do let people know something brief, like, "if I ever have an attack, a good response is to ask if I need anything. Usually I won't. I have my rescue medications in my purse, and I can set them up myself. It would nice if you were to stay around me and make sure I don't lose consciousness. If I do, then it's an emergency and a 911 call."

The problem is I can't educate people who think they already know everything or who are refusing education. My manager told me he told them what my directions were and that they would follow them. The problem is that they are refusing for me to educate them directly with RT and sign off on it.

My friend is telling me that when she sees them, they are wanting education. She said maybe the manager didn't tell me the truth. So, I emailed them directly to ask if they were refusing to get some education on it.

It's all a mute point right now, since the manager said he doesn't want me to work there anyone because of what happened.

I did talk to the techs afterward, but the response was, "you shoudl just relax. Asthma is not that serious. So what that you were having an attack?"

I'm sorry, I am a poor writer. I know I repeat myself a lot in this post. I had to do remedial English in college, and had to get help from a speech therapist in junior high since I could not even copy sentences, but was 85% or better in most other areas on the intelligence test.

I am trying to get with a support group here locally, or a counselor who has experience with people with more severe asthma, but insurance is getting in the way, and I have to keep trying.
 
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amcate replied to Amelia_WebMD_Staff's response:
Hi, Amelia. I went ahead and clicked on the link. I've seen it before, but thank you for it.

Bear with me, as I'm repeating myself some. My coworkers in the past have told me I'm wrong and that my asthma doctor is wrong and no treatment is needed. Now, my manager says that even after what happened, they are refusing to be educated. I don't know if it's true, only that he said it was. Apparently, he is also refusing to have any formal education with them, even a sit down with RT and me which would cover those topics. So, what if the hospital, management, and/or coworkers are refusing to receive the information? Or if you try to tell them, the PT simply tells you that you are wrong, and the right thing to do with an asthma attack is nothing. It's like talking to a brick wall.

My family is the main one who would have to take care of me if I get hurt, so I followed what they wanted me to do. They said that if the hospital or staff or management was refusing to get those coworkers education, then it was better to not work there. My family said that no job is worth your health.

Again, though, I did email my coworkers to verify that they were not open to any education.

Thanks for the support and understanding and your response.
 
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amcate replied to sgbl88's response:
I'm sorry, I just read "It sounds like the RT was helpful. It was probably better for you to sit and rest..."

That was a different situation than the one that upset me recently. I was in a big hospital, so our offices were in another building. I had my inhaler on me in that situation, and it was in a covering to prevent patient germs from getting on the mouthpiece. The spacer is kind of big to carry, and I get concerned about someone hacking up and a patient's mucus getting on the mouthpiece of my spacer. So, I was in the ICU and had an attack. I used the inhaler without the spacer a few times, then was going to our offices to redo with the spacer. The RT held me hostage, which I thought she was being overly cautious, but I can understand why she would do it. I certainly did not feel unsafe.

In this recent situation, since I was in a small hospital, the inhalerr and spacer where in my purse, which is always within reach-5 minutes tops. It's just my coworkers were making it hard for me to concentrate and so I wanted to escape them as fast as possible, so the bathroom was right there. I didn't have the inhaler on me when I went to the bathroom.

It makes more sense for me to have it directly on my person. I will look up information on Maxair, and see if my doctor thinks it might fail. I have a history of rescue meds failing to reverse attacks.
 
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amcate replied to sgbl88's response:
I looked up information on Maxair. It says it uses pirbuterol. Is it similar to albuterol? Albuterol by itself likes to fail to reverse an attack. So, one night, it wasn't working, I called into the allergist's office, and they told me to take a lot of it, then go by the pharmacy and get CombiVent, which is a combination drug of albuterol and ipratropium bromide. They said go to ER if it gets worse. So, from then on I've used a combination rescue drug as opposed to albuterol by itself. It doesn't fail as easily. Is there a combination drug that you don't have to use a spacer with?
 
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amcate replied to amcate's response:
I spoke to the pharmacist today, and he said that Maxair is no longer made. He was not aware of a combination drug that has a spacer in it, but he also said he was not sure.
 
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Amelia_WebMD_Staff replied to amcate's response:
Amcate,

Again, I'm so sorry for all that you are going through and wonder if these coworkers realize that they could possibly be going against the Americans with Disabilities Act, as asthma seems to be included, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Check out this AAFA page that states, "In both the ADA and Section 504, a person with a disability is described as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or is regarded as having such impairments. Breathing, eating, working and going to school are "major life activities." Asthma and allergies are still considered disabilities under the ADA, even if symptoms are controlled by medication."

Maybe you should reach out to the AAFA and/or ada.gov if things don't get better. There is no reason why your work environment should be such a hostile and dangerous place.

Please take care of yourself and keep us posted!

Wishing for the best!!
Amelia
- Asthma doesn't seem to bother me anymore, unless I'm around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar. - Steve Allen
 
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amcate replied to Amelia_WebMD_Staff's response:
Amelia,

You mentioned, "Maybe you should reach out to the AAFA and/or ada.gov if things don't get better."

The manager fired me stating the reason as something like, "due to recent communications".

To summarize, the employees showed a response that would have been dangerous if the attack was severe. My request was to have them get education and have that be documented. The reason for my request was so that if they were grossly negligent (ie, doing something like hiding my rescue medicines from me-which I don't think they would do) and I am harmed in the future as a result, then my family who would have to take care of me would have some documentation that the involved coworkers knew what they were doing. The reason my family was requesting this was so they could recover money to help take care of me. I told my family that if I said that to my employer the employer would likely find a reason to fire me. My family said they would rather help me until I can find another job than to risk having to care for me long term.

My impression is that my manager fired me to lessen the chances they would have a lawsuit in the future. I don't know that for sure.

At this point, the problem is how do I prove anything? There were four people in the room, and then me. It's my word against their word. What I'm hearing through the grapevine is that they are considering that I am upset purely due to psych issues on my part and that they were reasonable in their response. I'm not positive of this, since it is through the grapevine. I did try to contact one of them, the only licensed person other than myself who was in the room. However, she has not returned the email. I asked her, "I can understand why a physical therapist would not know about asthma. I can not understand why you would refuse to learn about it so you will know what to do next time." She is not answering me.

I do want to thank you for the references. I will look into them as I'm sure from time to time this type of thing will come up. I am accustomed to people being insensitve, but not people who refuse to learn how to respond to an asthma emergency when a coworker has more severe athma.

On the bright side, I called a physical therapist I used to work with today for a reference so I can find another job. She told me, "wow...you are preaching to the choir on this one." She proceeded to tell me how she has a seizure disorder and that when we worked together she was afraid of letting anyone know, so she went to the bathroom and had seizures there. Her fear was that if the employer found out, then the employer would be so worried about the possibility of litigation from her if she had a seizure at work and it turned out poorly that the employer would find a reason to fire her. She told me she had a seizure in her new place of employment, but could not get to the bathroom in time, and they responded very aggressively with ER type stuff. She found out her new employer is actually pretty accepting of it all. So, I found a friend that I didn't even know I had. I never knew she had seizures.

In my experience in healthcare settings, when an employer wants to fire someone, they will find a reason. I have a friend who worked 12 years in a nursing home, and then got breast cancer. They fired her shortly after, even though her performance reviews for 12 years were good. They don't say, "you're fired because you got breast cancer and our health care insurance premiums will go up", but they find another reason.

I think my request to have the involved coworkers educated in how to respond to emergency asthma stuff for me and to have it documented that the hospital provided that training is a reasonable request. The coworkers already demonstrated that they react in a dangerous fashion to asthma attacks. Either the coworkers or someone else in the organization refused the education. Manager said it was not an option.

I will look at the links you gave for the future. Thanks.
 
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amcate responded:
I wish to clarify what I wrote. I was told that I could not return to that specific hospital. However, I was not told that I was fired from the hosptial system. Hospital systems often comprise many different individual hospitals. I'm employed through the human resource department of another hospital in the same system. So, I was not fired from the hospital system, However, it does mean that particular hospital said that they don't want me back. Sometimes I write things to make it simpler, but I want to be sure I was not misleading.

It is true that I did not want to work at one of the other hospitals in the system, and that another said they would not use me, but these were before this incident. The hospital I did not want to work at had about 75% of their staff quit in a 3 month period due to issues with upper management at that site. Again, though, that was before this particular incident.

As far as I know, I'm still technically an employee of the health care system. I do plan on learning ADA information, though, becaue it seems it would be good to learn it.

I have spoken to a trusted advisor, and he said he would not pursue it because the risk of having trouble getting another job. I will also ask some of the other hospitals in the system if they want me, but of course I would understand if they don't.

Thanks for being a sounding board. At times I just get fusterated with other's lack of understanding of the position that a moderate to severe asthmatic person is in, especially with using too much prednisone and wearing a mask.
 
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sgbl88 replied to amcate's response:
Good grief! You have had a hard time with it.

You may need to contact a lawyer. Your termination may not be legal. Not that you would want to work with people like that, but it would give you some compensation.

I don't know of another combination rescue inhaler. My allergist went to a conference in early 2011 at which a doctor from National Jewish presented research showing that ipatropium nebs are good for asthmatic maintenance treatment. You may want to discus that with your doctor. Also, you may want to pretreat with an ipatropium neb before work. That might help albuterol based inhalers work better for you.

As far as keeping your mouthpieces clean you could try carrying it in a small cosmetic bag. It really is necessary for you to carry your medication.

I hope that helps you some.

Praying things get better for you.

Sonya
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end... Ye shall seek me, and find [me]


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