TORONTO -- The Twitter hashtag PatientsAreNotFaking is trending with people sharing their stories of not being believed after a U.S. health-care worker made a viral video mocking certain patients.

On Tuesday, Twitter user “D Rose” tweeted a TikTok video of her in medical scrubs dancing to the fake cough of a patient, who is also played by her. The caption read: “We know when y’all are faking.”

Rose, who declined to use her full name or identify where she worked, told that she’s worked in the health-care field for five years. In subsequent tweets, she said she’s “worked in mental health, alcohol and drug rehabilitation.”

Her Twitter feed also contains similar videos which she says jokingly, mock patients and said she regularly uses humour with her patients to put their minds at ease.

But her recent video, which has garnered 14.5-million views, has brought in waves of criticism accusing her of mocking patients with real medical concerns.

“I never thought in a million years, that people would see the exaggerated dance moves and think that is something I actually do,” Rose said.

But in the wake of the video, hundreds of people have flooded Twitter with the hashtag PatientsAreNotFaking, with tales of disbelieving doctors, nurses, paramedics.

For example, one woman tweeted about waking up in pain, with a fever and covered in sweat. “They sent me home without scans, said it was gastro (intestinal). I [was] readmitted the next day. [it was a] lodged kidney stone, needed a stent and lithotripsy to remove.”

Another user described how it was nearly a decade before she was correctly diagnosed with fibromyalgia because her doctor initially failed to understand her dizzy spells. One woman tweeted about how she was falsely labelled a hypochondriac after a car crash. After 15 years in pain, she was correctly diagnosed with “permanent and progressive spinal cord injury.”

Another woman recalled being told to calm down after being in and out of emergency rooms. “Turns out, it’s extremely hard to relax when you’re having your first attack from Multiple Sclerosis,” she said.

Dr. Eugene Gu tweeted that doctors are “human beings who make mistakes and can dismiss the concerns of patients out of ego or pride because we think we know better than you do for your own bodies. It’s wrong.”


U.S. blogger and disability rights advocate Imani Barbarin, who first coined the hashtag on Friday, told in a phone interview she was “disturbed at how flippant the video was regarding patient care.”

“So many black, Indigenous, people of colour, disabled people, trans people, queer people have very difficult experiences at the doctor’s office with (getting) nurses, medical professionals to believe us about our symptoms and diagnoses,” she said, adding that the video being retweeted so many feeds was “very traumatic for a lot of disabled people.”

“I created the hashtag so that there could be a place where we could still talk about it but without censoring that video,” Barbarin said.

Barbarin said she’s disappointed with the medical community when it came to it addressing these long-standing concerns. She stressed Rose’s video wasn’t “just a joke. People have died because of that mentality.”

Rose told she was only mocking people clearly faking their symptoms, so she feels people’s anger is misplaced.

“From what I see, the majority of people that do not like my video have had some sort of bad encounter with a health-care provider,” she wrote. “So my video reminded them of a time that they were not given the care that they deserve.”


But Barbarin said too many times patients are told they’re faking it or exaggerating symptoms, sent home or dubbed as just drug seekers. She noted that she even saw some nurses agreeing with parts of the video.

“It is very disconcerting to see so many medical professionals resonating with the video that essentially makes fun of their patients,” she said, adding that “it was very disappointing to watch so many people (who have to) essentially beg … to be taken seriously.”

Barbarin said tactics that she and other people of colour have been forced to use include bringing another person to witness the medical interaction, looking for a medical professional with the same cultural background or asking the doctor to note when patients are refused medication, test or treatment.

But she said the larger issue is doctors needing to leave their egos and defensiveness at the door, particularly when patients are persons of colour or have a disability and feel they’re not being adequately helped.

Barbarin called on every medical professional or researcher to take a hard look at potential ways that they’re subconsciously or not perpetuating stereotypes that people don’t know their own bodies the best.

Echoing these thoughts was CEO and founder of The Centre of Patient Protection Kathleen Finlay, who told that doctors not believing patients “happens far too often.”

“It’s hard to believe this in 2019 but patients are still mocked and blamed by the major players in our health-care system. Whether it’s doctors, nurses, physiotherapists or pharmacists,” she said.

“I receive messages from families all the time who are treated with unbelievable disrespect,” Finlay said, adding that these two factors combined “can and do have enormous consequences.”

These could be misdiagnoses, needless emotional distress, failure to provide appropriate treatment and even death.

In fact, patients’ symptoms not being believed is a large, documented issue for females, racialized groups and other minority communities in both Canada and the U.S.

Many, including Finlay, have called for repercussions for Rose.


Rose said there will always be patients who fake illnesses but that "from the moment I began nursing school, we were taught that pain and symptoms are subjective and that we are required to treat them regardless of what we may or may not think."

To patients who aren't taken seriously in real life, she told "I am sorry that you are not receiving the care that you deserve. Be sure to always be your biggest supporter and advocate. If one person is not treating you correctly, demand another and don't stop until you feel satisfied in the care you received."

And she also defended herself in a series of tweets saying, “The FACT is my video had nothing to do with race, mocking panic attacks, or anything else I’ve been accused of.”

“I also know myself. I know how much I love my job. I know how much I care for the people I come across. And I know the positive difference I make,” she wrote. “[Patients] come to me at what may be their worst times in their life, and my first reaction is to always figure out how I can make them smile.”

Rose said she’s received death threats, calls for her to lose her job, as well as racist and sexist attacks.

But in a tweet, she refused to take down her video, writing: “I absolutely will not be bullied into apologizing or deleting a video because some people disagree with me.”