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Monday, January 28, 2013

Doctor: How A Preventable Medical Error Killed My Mother

Jonathan Welch with his mother. (Family photo)

Dr. Jonathan Welch with his mother. (Family photo)

Medical errors in hospitals kill more Americans every year than AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined.

But Dr. Jonathan Welch never thought his mother would be one of those statistics. After all, he’s an emergency physician in Boston.

But when his mother took a turn for the worse during cancer treatment in Wisconsin, he went from confident doctor to helpless and lost son, afraid of questioning the care she was getting, for fear it would become worse.

In other words, he became just like most of us.

Welch told Here & Now’s Robin Young, “One of the surprising things after having this story out, is how many individuals have reached out to me with very similar stories. This is not a story told in isolation.”

Guest:


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  • JennaJennaeight

    Is sepsis following surgery in itself considered to be a medical error?  Although it is common, it is preventable.

  • Nia

    Five years ago, I watched my father go from a severe headache to  paralyzed, to hallucinating, then unconscious in a Maine hospital. He remained on the normal hospital floor, and when I asked why he was not in ICU, I was told he was not going down hill and that I did not need to be so concerned.

    What ensued was unbeleivable – hypothetical diagnosis from the attending physician including brain cancer, syphillis and mad cow. After one week I asked for a transfer to Boston and was told my father did not qualify for life flight and I could pay for an ambulance transport because it would be to a parallel level of care. I paid and as soon as we got to Boston, my father was put in the neuro ICU. He had been a brain bleed that went undetected for about 7 days….

    something does indeed need to change. i am sure there are more stories like ours out there than we can imagine.

  • Katewa44

    In 2003, my mother entered the hospital for what should have been a fairly simple surgery – a cleaning of the carotid artery.   She had had the same surgery a few years earlier.  After surgery, the staff in the recovery room was having trouble removing the intubation.  Thinking it was from her asthama, they decided to leave it in.  In reality, she was having a stroke.  The stroke wasn’t discovered until about 20 hours later.  They started a blood thinner thinking it was a clot but in reality, she was having a brain bleed.  Obviously, the blood thinner was a devastating decision.  It was the most painful eight days of mine and my siblings life as we stayed in the hospital waiting for her to pass,  The damage was such that there waws no recovering from it.

  • Raj

    About 8 years back when my wife was pregnant we were at the hospital for a routine check-up. Her blood was work before this appointment. While nurse was taking stats her file was in front of my wife’s eyes and she just noticed that her blood group was different than what she had seen all her life. She mentioned this to the nurse. Later they found out that this was an error in copying data from lab to the gyno office. However reaction from nurse was very rude. She almost yelled at us for looking into the file which was open in front of us and she was entering other stats like temperature. Nurse told us that we are not allowed to look into the file and this is secret and we could be in trouble for doing that.
    First of all these are our records and why are these a secret from us.
    Doctor and nurse should be thanking us for not making a huge mistake, because during blood transfusion that could have been using an incorrect blood group.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

       The nurse was wrong to treat you so rudely, but those are not your records.  The clinic or hospital owns the records, not you.  You most likely signed paperwork notifying you of this when you were first seen at the clinic.

      • DP

        The “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” (HIPAA)3, Public Law 104–191, was signed into law on August 21, 1996. On the basis of its provisions, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promulgated the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” (the so-called “Privacy Rule”), which went into universal effect in April 2004. Because “protecting the confidentiality of health information is only a portion of the principle of health privacy” and “assuring patients access to their health information is the other part of the equation”4, among other important provisions, the Privacy Rule guarantees patients’ rights to access their medical records and to obtain a copy of them5, except in certain circumstances6, within thirty days from the date the request is received (sixty days if requested information is stored off-site7); this time can be extended by no more than thirty days8.

    • Katewa44

      Believe it or not, those records “belong” to the doctor.  It can be very difficult to access them and ever more difficult to get an entry in the records changed.   IT’s not right.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

        You cannot change medical records — it is illegal to modify them because they are legal documents.  However, if there is an error, it can be crossed out and dated (on paper records), or an addendum can be added (on electronic records).

        • Katewa44

          Yes, I know that but didn’t think I had to spell it out.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

             Well, if you know the reason, why did you complain in the first place?

          • Katewa44

            Who was complaining?  I was merely making a statement.   Geez, get a grip.

      • DP

        “The “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” (HIPAA)3, Public Law 104–191, was signed into law on August 21, 1996. On the basis of its provisions, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promulgated the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” (the so-called “Privacy Rule”), which went into universal effect in April 2004. Because “protecting the confidentiality of health information is only a portion of the principle of health privacy” and “assuring patients access to their health information is the other part of the equation”4, among other important provisions, the Privacy Rule guarantees patients’ rights to access their medical records and to obtain a copy of them5, except in certain circumstances6, within thirty days from the date the request is received (sixty days if requested information is stored off-site7); this time can be extended by no more than thirty days8.”

  • Sammyd7788

    Two years ago my Mom hurt her back.  Several visits to her own docotr and an MRI,showed no breaks, and her own MD swore to me that she had not fractures.  However, My mother was becoming more and more disabled, going from an 86 year-old who is active, does all her own meals and shopping, and swims almost every day to someone who was using a walker.  She went to the ER, finally, because of intractable pain.  The first time, The hospital sent her home with reccommendations for a “pain control” doctor.  They were treating her like a “little old lady”, not looking at the whole person, and her own MD not caring about the sudden change or doing anything about it.  When I got there (trip across country) she was in bed and could not get up by herself.  I took her to the hospital and they did not even formally admit her for two plus days. (Medicare has this provision that you can be in a hospital for observation  …).  Finally, on the third day they did an abdominal ultrasound and sheepishly admitted to me that she had two breaks in her plevis and one or two in her lumbar spine.  Only then did they agree to send her to a rehab facility where she could get proper care.
    This story emphasizes that you have to be very assertive with medical facilities and MD’s, and that if family members don’t speak up, there may be dire consequences.  My mother would have ended up disabled had she not been properly diagnosed.  If you know something is wrong, act, even if you are labeled a jerk or worse, because your loved one, at that moment, cannot speak up for his or her self.

  • Mfolk85

    2003 my mother entered a teaching hospital here in Long Island, New York.  From her er visit to her discharge from the hospital I felt completely helpless, she was in the hospital for 19 days, she entered the hosptial somewhat confused and within a few days she was in a coma due to medications making her sick.  She remained in the coma for about a week before  my aunt insisted she be cultured for infection.  It turned out that her infection coupled with her medication being too high of a dose made her so ill that she became comatose.  Eventually after discharge we found that she had dental problems which once remediated her confusion cleared.  It a medical doctor had recognized her mouth as an infection source, my Mom would not have had such an ardous last few years of her life.

  • Anne Missavage

    I am a general surgeon and a wound specialist. My father died in one of the best hospitals in the Detroit area. He died because of malnutrion  – they did not feet him, infection in the urine, and an increasing size bedsore. The nurses acted like there was something wrong with me because I wanted to know what was going on with him. The hospital personnel were too busy entering data into the computer, instead of examining him or talking to the family. 

  • Ad Clark

    The good doctor and dutiful son strikes me as a passive wimp who is confrontation averse. I would want any son of mine to confront the nurse, the doctor, the hospital administration and a lawyer, in that order. There is no plausible way to rationalize his failure to act. I’m not sure which is worse, the medical malpractice or the son’s worse than lame response to it.

    • K Cota

      Clearly you have not been in this situation. I have, and with all the confrontations, the questions, the threats the agression did not help for me. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

  • guest

    I was at a hospital due to high-risk pregnancy. My doctors, both the high-risk doc and my ob/gyn doc were called in on Sunday, for an emergency delivery. The team of the nurses acted very quickly. They were preparing the surgery while waiting for the doctors. At some point, the nurse understood something needed done fast to save me. She hesitated a bit but went ahead with it anyway while waiting for the doctors to arrive. The doctor updated the chart and authorized what she did when he came in. She was one of the people who saved my life. It was a long night and there were so many things could go wrong with me and the baby. My baby and I walked out of the hospital a couple weeks later in good health — a miracle considered by many. Too often the protocols were placed not for saving life but for managing liabilities. It takes courage even to act out of common sense in those circumstances. I was extremely lucky to be under the care of highly competent medical professionals.  I applauded Dr. Welch’s decision not to sue the hospital since lawsuit could be the ultimate reason why the hospital failed in the first place.

  • Mkschattnik

    My husband was dying of cancer and we were in the hospital waiting for the next nurse to come on her shift. I kept pressing the call button and some people kept coming in telling me my husband`s nurse would be there in a minute. I kept telling them he needed his pain meds. I had some in my purse so I gave them to my husband. An hour and a half later the nurse came in and wanted to know what was wrong. I told her and said I gave him meds I had in my purse. I was treated like a child and given a lecture about how we don’t do that here. I was so angry I just started to yell back. Told her if she had come when she was called I wouldn’t have to give him his meds. I went for a walk because I was so mad and a doctor came in and appologized. This was taken out on my    husband. She overdosed him on pain meds so he would just sleep. I know because the morning nurse questioned the amount of drugs he was given.

    My husband died from his cancer but I never regret giving him his pain meds or getting angry. I found out the night nurse just had 3 patients that night to take care of.

    Mary Brown 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

     “How A Preventable Medical Error Killed My Mother”

    The error didn’t kill her, the bacteria did. 

    Sepsis is not some newly discovered illness, it is well known.  There is a very good chance his mother would have died even if treatment had been started immediately.

    Sepsis is not a preventable illness, the world is septic and we live in the world.  You can take measures to decrease the risk of sepsis, but you cannot prevent it. 

    Why was the oncologist the admitting physician if the patient was not admitted for her cancer?  There are very strict and traditional protocols for admitting patients to hospitals, that’s why you have an attending physician.  The attending is the chief, all orders go through the chief.  Calling it “politics” makes it seem petty, but there are many good reasons (and some bad reasons) for setting it up this way. 

  • Jcrichlow

    My son, Cody, was born with spina-bifida. When he was 2 weeks old, the initial closure of his lesion failed and he was hospitalized and had another surgery to repair the closure. One night after the surgery he started turning gray and twitching, and eventually started to become apnic – to stop breathing. His sweet nurse paged the the neurosurgery resident on call over and over, but due to an issue with the pager, he did not come for about 5 – 6 hours. When he did come, he merely looked at the incision and left, without waking me (I was in the chair next to the crib), and without consulting the nurse. I woke at 8 am with 6 doctors a around me trying to get my son breathing. He was moments from death. He did survive, but the raging bout of meningitis that he had has caused multiple severe complications. He has undergone 11 surgeries and spent 6 months of his 2 years in a children’s hospital. He has now been given less than one year to live due to scar tissue and debris that are blocking the ventricles in the cervical area of his brain and spine. I will never know what would have been the results if I had followed my instincts to raise the alarm by calling the pediatric emergency response team. I don’t blame myself and I believe that my son’s life is a blessing and a gift no matter how long it lasts, but I have learned to advocate strongly for my son, no matter with whom I am dealing. Most of our experience at this particular hospital has been very parent-oriented and positive, and they have encouraged me, and I have learned, that I know my loved-one better than the most highly-trained physician.

  • Karen Cota

    Almost a year ago my mother died in a hospital after 4 days of being admitted. The day before she was admitted I had taken her to the doctors because I knew she was asperating a that she had developed pnuemona. That day the doctor told me they could not “justify” for billing purposes to admit her. The next day she started coughing up blood. From the time she entered until the time she died I witnessed a medical breakdown within the system. She had a test of her lungs which did not “show anything”. While she was under they decided to insert a feeding tube through her nasal passages. It took 24 hours to actually get any food to go into the tube because someone had to write the order, someone had to authorize it, some one else had to deliver the food and someone else had to insert the food into the tube. All the while my 83 year old mother is starving and dying. I avocated, I yelled, I did eveything possible to get her the care. Everytime I was told that an order, or another doctor or nurse had to do something else to get the thing accomplished. When she died, she had a pacemaker. It took nearly an hour for some doctor to come ONE floor down to her room to turn off the pacemaker. ONe doctor had to write the order and some other doctor had to come turn it off. It was horrible to sit and know your mother was dead and yet her heart was still beating. Clearly health care has become so dysfunctional in orders, paper work, this doctor for that and this doctor for this that the system has bogged down and people who might have lived are dying.

  • Nina

    My 85 year old father needed a colon re-section because of cancer.  It was a small tumor.  The surgeon decided to try to do the operation laparoscopically (sp?) and, instead of the 2 hour surgery he’d told us it would be, surgery lasted 8.5 hours.  When I asked the surgeon why it took so long, he said he’d had some trouble when he went in but everything looked great so he kept going… and going… and going, even though an 85 year old should not be under anesthesia for such a long time and he could easily have just finished the surgery in the old fashioned non-laparoscopic way.  The first couple of days, my father was hallucinating wildly.  When that started to calm down, he started feeling very uncomfortable so I called a G-I specialist doctor friend who told me to ask the surgeon if there was a leak in the staple.  The surgeon said, “Absolutely not!  The operation went great!”  After eight days, my father was still not able to take solid food and had a hard time breathing so the surgeon took him in for what he told me would be “a simple exploratory surgery to help him breathe better.”  Three hours later, my father had had a complete colostomy and was on every imaginable kind of life support because … you guessed it … there had been a leak in the staple and his bowel cavity had been destroyed by the fecal matter that had filled it.  After ten days in the ICU, my father died.  My father had been extremely strong.  It was amazing he lived so long after the surgeries.  He would easily been able to survive had the surgeon not erred as he did. 

    One of the things that upset me the most was that the hospital put “Colon Cancer” as the cause of death.  That was completely wrong and was done to cover their a**.  I didn’t catch that fact on the death certificate right away and there was nothing I could do about it when I did notice it.  I was most interested in making sure this couldn’t happen to anyone else but I did look into suing the hospital.  When a malpractice lawyer looked at the documentation I requested from the hospital, he said it was an open and shut case but I would have to pay for expert witnesses (approx. $75,000 he said) and there could be minimal money awarded because of my father’s age.  I didn’t sue because I need all the money I have to take care of my mother who has advanced Alzheimer’s Disease.  My father was her caregiver until his hospitalization and death. 

    During his time in ICU, my sister and I met with up to five doctors daily to discuss our father’s situation.  My G-I doctor friend said that was unusual – the hospital knew how much it was their fault.  However when it came to trying to talk to them about the case, they just slammed the doors in our faces and didn’t want to hear anything.  However, shortly after my father’s death, I heard that the surgeon had left the hospital…

  • Wendy

      A while back my  mother went to the local hospital with a relatively minor ailment; diverticulitis. She possibly should have been sent home with an order not to eat food with seeds or nuts however she was admitted for tests, etc. The short version is: one mistake led to next mistake an my generally healthy 60+ year young community oriented wonderful mother died a violent unnecessary death from the inappropriate use of medical device which punctured her aorta. The insertion of this filter was an awake procedure after which she was sent back to her general hospital room while bleeding to death… 
    In the aftermath of the tragedy  the family was given a number of different versions of the incident  and generally treated poorly by the institution responsible. The insensitive attitude by those who should have been profusely apologetic created more trauma and effected the survivors ability to heal from such a horrific event.  Unlike other accidents or illnesses those who have been affected by serious medical error there is little support, the pursuit of accountability is painful and frequently frustrating  hence people suffer in silence and it’s a slow process to change ….

  • Dr. Michael Nelson

    In the current medical care culture where third party reimbursement is focused on testing and not on treatment, much of what we were raised to believe was “health care” is no more.  Physicians are under pressure to see more and more patients in order to maximize earnings potential both for themselves and their umbrella clinics.  Their patients have been marginalized to be less consumers and more part of the guaranteed patient base brought to them by whatever current insurance reimbursement contract they are most recently operating under.  Patients are not just discouraged to ask questions but are often greeted by animosity when the physicians protocols or diagnosis is questioned. 
    Physician/medication/and hospital protocol mistakes are more often ignored or given less than serious examination due to the fear of creating paper trails that could lead to larger malpractice settlements, and lowered hospital ratings.  Physicians in general are quicker to close ranks around one of their own, than to point out shortcomings for these reasons and because of the political and heirarchical nature of physicians of tenure.
    Through all of this, the cardinal rule of health care “Above all else, do no harm”, has become secondary to maximizing business return.

    Dr. Michael Nelson, Mt. Morris, Illinois

    • jefe68

      Thank you Dr. Nelson for turning some light on our dysfunctional for profit market based health care system. 

      We need a single payer system that is not based on fee for service.
      Get the insurance corporations out of health care.

      We need to have more barging leverage with big pharma.

      • Gula

        What we need to do is get away from Big Pharma. Your body functions best on high quality nutrient dense foods, not the current garbage of overprocessed, fragmented, chemicalized, devitalized, GMO ladened,dead and stale material passing off as food. Americans are overfed and undernourished with this Standard American Diet(SD) of slop.
        THe body functions with oxygen, water and food, not drugs.
        Your body was not designed to ingest drugs.
        Big Food along with Big Pharma are your problems, not your saviours.

        Nosocomial infections and iatrogenic diseases kill well over 260,000 Americans annually.
        Doctors are the #3 killer of Americans after heart disease and cancer. This right from the AMA’s own journal. Look it up.
          

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-Slitt/100000370444058 Laura Slitt

    What killed your mother is sitting right in front of her on her plate, and all the plates with acidic, toxic, rich, animal protein food that, like ALL foods caught in toxic oceans or butchered after a torturous life of  being fed chemicals and genetically adulterated “food,” increase cancers.

    As a “doctor,” allowing your mother to feast on the rich diet of the west, not that nurtion is taught in medical schools, not sexy or high tech enough, is irresponsible. When NPR begins to do what it claims, be unbiased, perhaps we’ll hear the voices of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Max Gerson’s daughter, Charlette of the Gerson Institute, or doctors from Kushi or Hippocrates Institutes.
    Whle media and medicine focus on treatment, rather then what CAUSES cancer, we’ll hear these heart braking litany’s of suffering. Truly though, the real culprit IS the global food system which has become our own worst enemy.
    We are bombarded with decietful language. Health care is NOT health care it IS disease care. Health INSURANCE should become health ASSURANCE, in educating children and young people how to eat the rainbow variety of foods that prevent disease, rather then express the bad genes to increase risk. PLEASE watch the video , “Chow Down.” Those are the doctors who know “Do No Harm.”

    • Katewa44

      Yes, in an ideal world everyone would be a vegan and process crap food wouldn’t exist – but this is a far from perfect world.  His mother did not get sepsis from poor nutrition but as a result of the cancer treatment (infection at site of needle?  I don’t think he said).   However, it’s not fair to add more guilt to people already suffering by implying that it’s their own fault they are sick.

      • Guest

        Unfortunately for the masses, Laura Slitt is exactly RIGHT. I am a vegetarian for the last 40 years and all of these illnesses are caused by individuals BAD decisions.  Add corrupt and/or incompetent medical providers to the mix and look at where that leads.
        FAT, OBESE and SICK people.
        No excuse for this !!!!

    • jefe68

      Why is that food fanatics are like religious fanatics?
      People of your ilk take all the joy out of life. 
        

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

      Crazy vegans, show us some proof or stfu. 

      What’s it like living in Vegan Fantasy Land?  I agree with Jefe68, seems pretty joyless.

      • Ted

        Once again Navin who some ignorant comment. Go take your meds and prepare for the Super Bowl.
        Navin, the Narcissus.  

  • dd

    My lung cancer had been treated for two years and seemed to rid me of the cancer.  Then I started to get problems with speech and memory.  Relatively quickly they found a brain tumor associated with the lung cancer.  The tumor  was quite large and I needed two operations to get it out.  I have one eye closed-the flesh is sagged, but the eye works.  I don’t know if  I should have had a MRI after one year or not.  The surgeon on the lung cancer and the primary oncologist never suggested anything like that.  Good or bad?  My treatment took place in Oregon.

  • Kpallante

     
     
    The comments below by Dr. Michael Nelson are spot on. Particularly the comment regarding physicians, “…closing ranks around their own.” I have had several experiences with incompetent doctors and hospitals. Please take the time to read my comment(s).  Here is just one of them:
     
    In 1992 we took my 3 year old daughter to the hospital which was our “designated hospital” – according to our HMO insurer (Kaiser Health). Our daughter had fallen down off of her bicycle and we all thought she had a broken arm. After the doctors x-rayed her arm, they told us unequivocally, “There is no break in her arm. She just has a deep bruise. Take her home, give her baby aspirin and put ice on it – she’ll be ok in two days.”
     
    For several reasons, we suspected that this was an incorrect diagnoses. Even though they were not in our “network”, we took our daughter to the premier Children’s Hospital in the Kansas City area: Children’s Mercy Hospital. When we arrived, we stayed completely silent about our visit (and discharge) from our designated “network” hospital. We acted as if they were the first medical professionals to see our daughter that day;  we stayed completely silent about the other hospital and their misdiagnoses.
    After the fine Doctors at Children’s Mercy called us into the room and declared: “Your daughter’s arm is completely broken (length wise) in the bone known as the ‘Ulna’ – and the ‘Radius bone’ has a crack that was approximately 1.5 inches long.” When I asked the doctor’s if they were absolutely sure that Rachel’s arm was broken? The orthopedic surgeon showed us her x-ray and said the following words:  “Of course it is broken. A first year medical student can see it & you, as a layman, can see it. Hell, Helen Keller can see it. You can clearly see that she has two breaks – a long one and the shorter one. But, both bones are clearly broken and she will need a cast on her arm and she should heal perfectly.”
    At that point, my wife and I described what had occurred at the hospital we had first visited (1 hour earlier & 10 miles away). When they learned that another Doctor (whose name I never mentioned) had discharged our daughter and declared that her arm was not broken and sent us home  –  the entire atmosphere in the room changed. It turned cold as ice. All of the professionals in the room (3 doctors and 2 nurses) began mumbling BS like:  “Well….these things are very hard to diagnose.” & “Sometimes older machines cannot pickup these breaks (on children).”  Etc., etc., etc.  Even though we never said we wanted to sue and even though we were just sharing information with these medical professionals, they circled their wagons and went into damage control mode. As far as I could tell, nobody at Children’s Mercy Hospital knew who the (original) doctor was (as I had never mentioned his name) that had discharged us earlier. Yet, they completely clammed up upon learning of our experience and barely spoke to us during the next two hours while they put on our daughter’s cast. They treated us like a piece of shit when we mentioned the incompetence at the original hospital. They did a fine job of fixing her arm and she healed perfectly.
    The dénouement is when I received an EOB from Kaiser stating that, since we took the child to an “out of network hospital” – we would be responsible for the entire, $7,500 medical bill. I called the vp of patient affairs at Kaiser and, after explaining what happened, she quickly eliminated the entire bill in the amount of $7,500. Also, I informed her that in the future, should any of my children need medical care, we would be going directly to Children’s Mercy Hospital  –  and bypassing the designated “network” hospital. I do not know if it was a coincidence or not, but the “network” hospital was kicked out of the network and Children’s Mercy was added to the network list. I am not sure if it was our experience that I told her about?
     
     
     

  • Curious Badger

    I live in Wisconsin and would very much like to know what hospital was involved. The way Dr. Welch, who is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Medical School, presents this, every hospital in the state is suspect. It is not right to tar with such a wide brush, and probably factually incorrect as well. I hope there are some, perhaps many, hospitals in the state that use the proper procedures. I need to know the ones that do not.  

  • maia

    Just like Kpallante’s daughter’s arm was broken the system is badly broken… and in more than two places.  The system is troubled at every level; each being culpable.  We could spend from now to eternity debating where to start and who are the biggest culprits.  What can be done NOW to exact necessary and beneficial change in the short and long run is dependent on the individual; be that patient, nurse, doctor, administrator, etc.; each assuming more ethical responsibility for their given role in the process of giving and/or receiving “health” care.  The patient must begin undertaking more accountability – for self-care and the care provided by others.  People have pets for whom they know their history and anatomy, are curious about their behaviors and changes in behavior, ask questions of the veterinarian, are earnest about needed medication and vigilant in its administration, are persistently diligent in their care.  Are individuals any less worthy and deserving of such thought, consideration and regard?

    I practiced nursing for almost a half century; the last 35 in the ER.  It is not easy and winning popularity contests is out of the question yet compassionate and ethically minded nurses can compel and extract changes for the good:  advocating for patients and families; being assertive and persistent; taking extra time with distracted and pressured physicians to communicate a fact, a “feeling”; standing against “procedure” when possible (ex. refusing to give a young woman a script for a large amount of a narcotic for seemingly minor pain, insisting the physician give her the script himself); the list is innumerable.

    One person cannot revise, reshape, revamp and reorder an entire system; though one by one we CAN make a difference.

    • kpallante

      Well
      put, Maia. Therein lies the rub…Americans are basically lazy – and often
      incompetent. Hard to get people “feeling” that they should take responsibility
      for their health when so many are dumber than a box of rocks. Also, unlike
      those caring, experienced nurses such as yourself, today’s medical world is
      rife with incompetence, errors and folks that make minimum wage. I recently
      toured (prior to surgery) the new, CENTERPOINTE HOSPITAL in Independence,
      Missouri. Even though it was a beautiful building and was recently purchased by HCA) the incompetence and utter
      stupidity that I encountered made me go to KU MED for my particular procedure.
      So, our goal is to change millions of folks’ minds? : )

  • Poetryguy

    I’d love to have a medical professional explain to me why/how Dr. Welch, who possessed the knowledge to save his mother couldn’t have overcome the politics and egos in that sad Wisconsin hospital to muster the resources to move on-duty clinicians to act? It also wasn’t clear in the story if he had tried (and failed) to contact his mother’s oncologist/personal physician by phone that night to get the necessary protocols into gear? What a sad tale.

  • Jomaso

    If Here and Now checked out this story they would know the hospital, correct? They would have attempted to speak to the others involved. I’m really quite disturbed they(the son and the show) choose to protect this hospital’s i.d. 

  • Rebeccawaller

    I related to Dr. Jonathan Welch’s interview. I had a similar situation with my mother. I will be more questioning & informed if another family member is hospitalized. Rebecca Waller

  • WI concerned

     It was chance that I was driving and heard this program yesterday in Wisconsin.  Ironical that the public radio station had included in a prior news report that WI is 46th in doctor reprimand, preferring to “rehabilitate” the doctor instead.  At the suggestion of a head doctor at one of the major teaching hospitals in WI who I provided my mother’s medical records to review, I filed a complaint about the fact that the doctor (and my now very estranged brother who had the POA for health care and for finances for both parents, and never provided full or accurate information to me, his only sibling) failed to treat my mother’s diabetes that arose at the age of 87.  She died a few months later, stating that it would be treated by diet except there was no nutrionist and no diet developed.  I researched medicare and learned that there were changes in 2008 related  to diabetes care, but haven’t begun to try to connect those dots yet.  .  However, the medical examiners failed to find any incompetence or failed to deliver any discipline of the doctor.  My 93 year old father died a few months later of sepsis.  What is unconscionable is that the doctor had a duty to treat diabetes, but didn’t.  I need to find out more about sepsis.  My (younger) brother with the POA stated in the medical records that he would talk to his family.  Presumably that should have meant me, instead it meant his wife.  I knew my dad had an annuity, and got the records on that.  My brother was named the only beneficiary in the presence of the broker-dealer and 8 months later considerable more money was added with my brother recommending the funds go to the annuity; I presumed that my mother was beneficiary and my brother and I were contingent beneficiaries, but my tricky brother made sure he was single handedly made the decisions and recommendations without involving anyone else.  .  I have filed about that, too.  Nothing has happened overall to begin to right the many wrongs that occurred.   Everyone takes a pass, including the attorney personal rep, etc.  I noticed last night that the January 2013 Consumer Report has a feature story related to the growth of family crime in elder abuse/law areas.  I will read the entire article ASAP. 

  • Concerned individual

    My family also experienced something very similar—and unfortunately more than once, with our mother. I also felt that filing a lawsuit just wasn’t going to make a difference and it certainly wasn’t going to bring our mother back. I believe that the most effective action that can be taken was commented on in the article, a culture shift is needed. Many years ago, the medical profession viewed a person as a whole and as a person, not a “patient” in a system of policies and procedures. A doctor or medical facility did a thorough exam and evaluated a person’s condition based on everything they collected about the person’s condition, made a diagnosis and treated the person as a whole.  Today, policies and procedures dictate what, if anything occurs. In many facilities a person is evaluated on what they are told the person has and nothing else, not even things they obviously develop while in the facility receiving care. On more than one occasion I’ve been told by a medical facility, that nothing can be done about the infection or other ailment my mother was suffering from as she didn’t come into the facility with that condition–even though it developed as a result of their treatment.

     Lawsuits, individual policy changes at individual hospitals, even federal regulations, are all small pieces of a huge cultural flaw. The system can only truly be corrected with a serious cultural change that places the responsibility on the medical profession – on all of us, to take action to prevent and heal people rather than blindly and strictly following policy.

  • citizenshame

    So we have a careerist doctor who — more concerned about protecting his employability and about preserving professional protocol/deference to fellow doctors — allows his mother to die a slow agonizing death in front of his very eyes (and after sending his concerned siblings home with assurances that he would take care of her) — all the for want of an antibiotic. And he’s such a great guy that he won’t file lawsuit, but instead writes a private letter to the hospital, which he admits has done no good, and now he talks about it but doesn’t name the hospital so others can avoid sending their mothers to equally brutal deaths at the hands of protocol-following medical professionals. I wonder what his siblings think. Maybe they should have stayed behind at the hospital and raised he** out of concern for their mother’s suffering rather than turning it over to the young doctor to follow professional protocol. The young doctor, it seems, suffers from the same disease but doesn’t even notice it. Thanks.

  • Al Neustadter

    It’s actually harder than you think to overcome a hospital culture and beauracracy even when a parent’s life is at stake.  You feel beholden to the medical staff and feel a need to cultivate their their goodwill.  When my dad was in the hospital I honestly did my best but failed miserably.  In my father’s case, a preventable medical “on purpose” killed him (see holycrosshealth.com).

  • janet12

    You are the very best at what you do. This site has made my deepest desire so simple! This has everything I could possibly need. Ekaka thanks for all your love and help. Your love spell brought my love back to me, after 3 years from the moment we broke up. And this evil woman finally disappeared. You chose me even if you can only take two clients a week and I am glad I chose you ekakaspelltemple@yahoo.com

  • Edward Breeze

    I think revenge murders are okay when doctors end up killing on of your family members. That will convince doctors to actually be more careful if there’s a real chance they’ll be murdered if they mess up. Mark my words.

Robin and Jeremy

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