Monday, April 12, 2010

Caring for all sides of the patient equation


You haven’t lived—I mean, died—until you have lain in a hospital bed with an empty IV peeping, peeping, peeping to be changed.

But that isn’t the half of it. Laura Landro writes in the WSJ, Mar 16, 2010, that despite the emphasis on medical errors causing deaths in hospitals, people are still succumbing to them at the same rate.

Anywhere between 44K and 98K people die from doctor or caregiver mistakes—it’s hard to pin down. Medication errors claim 1.3 million. Infection in hospitals—another
100K.

Some hospitals have adopted a Care of the Caregiver standard to help caregivers traumatized by making a mistake. This is supposed to be between a blame-free standard and an individual responsibility standard.

Yes, many hospital workers are overstressed, work too long hours, nothing seems to prevent this.

The worker in this story gave a laboring woman a spinal painkiller—in her IV—thinking it was penicillin. She had worked two shifts before a nap in the hospital.

She was so freaked out, she almost took her own life. She was also prosecuted but the charges were knocked down to a misdemeanor. Then she got a job in this group trying to help caregivers who mess up.

Seems pretty sad all around. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know I fear lying in a hospital bed with no one coming. Maybe I should be more afraid if they do come.

Good argument for having someone with you, I guess.

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