Medical Errors And Patient Safety Hit Home For Young Doctor

Watching a loved one suffer through a health crisis is a terrible ordeal. When medical mistakes compound the problem or claim the life of a loved one, the situation can be unbearable. One young doctor learned important lessons about patient safety from watching the care given to her mother, care she believes contributed to her mother’s death after a hospital stay for breast cancer. The doctor recounted her experience as part of a questionnaire give by ProPublica.

In the questionnaire, the doctor outlines incidents that may sound familiar to many other patients and people with loved ones in the hospital. She recounts problems with falls and dangerous drug side effects. She discussed a black eye and the problems her mother experienced while disoriented from medications and medical procedures. She indicated that medication errors were frequent.

The doctor’s conclusions about the cause of the mistakes made in her mother’s care are interesting. She believes that patient safety is often compromised in complex cases. The demands placed on a physician’s time makes proper treatment particularly difficult in complex cases. She believes that a patient’s family should take an active role in the care being provided. This is particularly true when a patient is handed from one doctor to another. There may be a breakdown in communication that could be addressed by family members before the patient is affected.

Patient safety is something many people take for granted when they check in to a hospital. Unfortunately, errors are very common and thousands of patients die every year due to improper medical care. Clearly, more needs to be done to improve the situation.

Source: ProPublica, “What a New Doctor Learned About Medical Mistakes From Her Mom’s Death,” by Marshall Allen, 9 January 2013