That is a typical headline in what has become a media circus and feeding frenzy over the self inflicted death of Jacintha Saldanha, 46, a nurse at London’s private King Edward VII Hospital, where she had worked for four years. Here are some more:
You see, Ms. Saldanha, if the media and members of her family are to be believed, felt life was not worth living and her husband and two children along with the rest of her family and friends were all better off without her, because she answered a telephone at the hospital and transferred the call to a nurses station. Oh the HORROR.
Saldanha was found dead three days after taking a phone call at London’s King Edward VII Hospital from radio deejays Mel Greig and Michael Christian. The morning radio hosts in Sydney, Australia, impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles (very poorly I might add) to try to pry out information on the health of Prince William’s pregnant wife Kate.
Ms. Saldanha’s role during the prank itself was extraordinarily minor. Mrs Saldanha was working on “reception” when she took the call at 5.30am on Tuesday from the two Australian radio personalities. She put the call through to the nurses station on Middletons’ ward, where another nurse spent two minutes chatting about the Duchess’s condition and treatment. To be clear, she answered the telephone and asked the caller to hold while she transferred her. That’s it.
Here is a recording of the entire call. Saldanha’s voice can be heard from 0:48 – 0:57. That’s right….an entire 9 seconds of contact with the pranksters.http://lawmedconsultant.com/prank.flv
The actual nurse who answered the telephone on the ward proceeded to freely give patient information to strangers on the phone who were acting like 6th graders and seemingly giving the nurse every opportunity to come to her senses, prattles on about “hydration” and a lack of “retching”. No state secret and no medical information that was not obvious and/or already in the media was discussed.
The REAL scandal here, in Law Med’s view, is the apparent utter lack of policies and procedures for interacting with the royal family when one of their members has been admitted to the hospital designated specifically for their care. I dare say they have precise space reserved in the facility with stringent security measures and unwavering procedures in place…except when it comes to someone calling the hospital to eek out patient information it seems. Why is there no direct phone line accessible only by the royals or other similar dignitaries? Or how about some ‘code word’ or phrase? “Red dog to blue leader, has the Duchess vomited today?”
If it is appropriate to splash the headlines accusing the two DJ’s in the death of this nurse then it is no less appropriate to accuse the hospital and its administrators. And what of the nurse who actually allowed the prank to bear its fruit? Any professional nurse who listens to the audio from the phone call is rolling their eyes at the abject stupidity on her part. Sorry, we hate to speak ill of a health care worker we have very limited knowledge of, but….COME ON! How does ANYONE who is the nurse caring for a member of the royal family accept that phone call at face value and, despite utterly absurd comments and ridiculous accents from the caller, start blabbering confidential patient information? Do they do this all the time there? Call up and say you are the Grand Duke of Gilderlilly and voila! You ARE, “How can we help you”!?
Regardless, the prank, which while juvenile was not particularly offensive, not the least bit cruel, and some innocent good low brow fun if you ask us, was in fact not a big deal. It was briefly mentioned in the press and no names of the hospital employees involved were released to the public. We of course do not know what went on behind the closed doors of the hospital but hospital officials claim they had not taken any action to punish the employees (which they frankly would have been in their rights to do…especially where the dim ward nurse is concerned). The royal family has issued a statement saying they had not made any complaints about the incident.
Yet the family of Saldanha claims she was “shamed to death”, the victim of a cruel prank directly responsible for causing her death. Saldanha’s brother, Naveen, told London’s Daily Mail his sister “would have felt much shame about the incident.” Yet Saldanha’s sister-in-law Carmine Barboza said the nurse never told her husband, an accountant for the Britain’s National Health Service, that she was depressed over falling for the hoax.
One thing that is preposterous to believe: Saldanha was happy and well adjusted at the moment the phone rang at 5:30 am in reception at King Edward VII Hospital. That the transfer of the phone call and the ensuing minor media blip would cause a mentally healthy nurse, anonymous to the world, to commit suicide is utterly ridiculous. You simply do not live for 46 years and obtain a job at the private hospital for royalty in London by being a picture of mental health but somehow also ready to fall to pieces in a suicidal nervous breakdown at the drop of a hat.
Suicide is a heart breaking tragedy for those it leaves behind. “Why?” is the question that ALWAYS haunts family and friends. They are left with constant “If only I had…..” scenarios running through their minds. Seldom is there a satisfactory answer as to why, and the guilt of not having recognized some warning sign, or not having done something to stop the tragedy (when there is almost never anything that could have been recognized or done once the mind is made up) can be overwhelming. It is understandable that loved ones lash out and want to place blame on someone or something other than the person who took their own life. And sometimes there IS blame to appoint…young people can arguably be ‘bullied to death’, disease can render any sane person yearning for release from its cruelty and pain. And at other times suicide is an act of self defense, if you will.
Answering the telephone and transferring a call to someone else who is responsible for addressing it, regardless of how disingenuous the caller is, simply cannot rationally be blamed for a person killing themselves. Could it push someone over the edge if they have been lingering by the edge already? Of course it’s possible. However no thoughtful person in a rational state of mind can accept Australian radio DJ’s have ANY complicity of mention in the death of this nurse.
In the end the real ‘victims’ of the prank phone call are in fact the perpetrators themselves. Relegated to hiding out in undisclosed locations, the pair have been taken off the air, hunted and vilified by the media, and reviled on the internet with thousands calling for them to be fired, imprisoned, and even killed. Their careers are ruined and they are saddled with being publicly blamed for the supposedly cruel death of another human being whom they spoke with for 9 seconds during a prank phone call only slightly more sophisticated than “Is your refrigerator running….?”
At least we found ONE headline that brought a tiny bit of rational thought to the events:radio hosts, kate middleton, Queen Elizabeth, phone, DJs, Jacintha Saldanha