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Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2016

Medical Mistakes

Posted Tuesday, December 29, 2009, at 10:26 PM

"A 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates up to 100,000 people die and roughly another half million are seriously injured each year due to hospital errors. Costs to the nation are approximately $37.6 million, with $17 million associated with preventable errors."

Recently, I went to pick up a prescription for my two-year-old. It had been called in by a doctor covering for her regular physician that was out. Before they even handed me the medication, I realized that it was wrong. The pharmacy staff said that this is what the doctor called in.

As I waited for the correct medication to be made up, I started thinking about medical errors. Another person might not have realized the mistake and taken it home and given it. Had it been given, it probably wouldn't have caused a lot of problems. But, it makes one realize that everybody has to be on their toes. People make mistakes, it will always happen.

How many of you carefully review each and every prescription you receive? Do you double check dosages? Do you familiarize yourself with the drug, and its various uses? Do you look at the insert that they give you at all?

Just paying attention on the part of both medical providers AND patients would do so much to reduce the incidence of medical mistakes and malpractice claims. Awareness might not only save lives, but it will also impact the cost of health care. We need both.

Showing comments in chronological order
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I had this samething happen to me a few years ago. I don't normally check the insert before leaving the store but for some reason on this day I did and thank goodness I did. I was given medication for Epilepsy when I was suppose to be getting medication for treating my Myasthenia Gravis. Since that time I now check everything before leaving the store.

-- Posted by schwakl on Wed, Dec 30, 2009, at 9:45 AM

Maybe I'm weird but I really do sit down and read the paper they give you with it, before I take the medicine. I do it because I find it interesting and want to know what side effects, I most likely, will experience. It's scary that a little slip up could cause a lot of damage.

Guess it's kind of like when the hospital sent my boyfriend home twice with a cyst that should have been lanced right away, but it wasn't so the infection spread into his blood stream and he had to stay in the hospital for 4 days.

-- Posted by _Samantha_ on Wed, Dec 30, 2009, at 2:16 PM

Also I want to clarify that I'm not pointing blame at the hospital. It was a mistake cause they didn't see how large the cyst really was.

-- Posted by _Samantha_ on Wed, Dec 30, 2009, at 2:34 PM

A good friend of mine was simultaneously prescribed a painkiller and an antibiotic to treat an infection in her foot. She asked the doctor before leaving his office (after receiving the prescription slip) if it was OK to take the two together. His response? "Sure, no problem. Well, let me check." Upon checking, he learned that the two reacted negatively together and could have landed her in the hospital. If my friend hadn't casually asked, he would have let her go right on and pick up the two prescriptions.

I don't expect doctors (or anyone in the medical community) to be walking pharmaceutical textbooks, but I do expect them to at least check before writing a prescription. Your best bet is to be proactive with your health and always double check.

-- Posted by notinia on Thu, Dec 31, 2009, at 6:21 AM

This happened to me quite a few years back. I went to pick up a prescription cream for a terrible burn I received. After reading what exactly I was prescribed (I have never had a burn that needed treatment like this before) I called the pharmacy (who had all my allergy information correct in their system) and inquired into it. I am allergic to Sulfa and they had given me Silvadene. I'm glad I checked the information that day!

-- Posted by jusamom on Thu, Dec 31, 2009, at 9:57 PM

I've had this happen to me as well. The pharmacy gave us the wrong meds which givn in the dosage they stated would have landed my daughter in the hospital!

There are times I wonder if parents should be given a Pharmacy 101 class before being allowed to leave the hospital. Since my oldest was born, I've learned so much from our doctor and pharmacist just by asking questions and paying attention to what they're telling me! I can't imagine the people that simply just don't ask!

-- Posted by KelliBloomquist on Fri, Jan 1, 2010, at 8:30 PM

You have to be your own (and your family member's own best advocate). Check everything. Don't let them give you one single pill in the hospital that the giver doesn't know the name of and what the pill is for. Don't consent to any procedure that you do not understand. Make sure your elderly family members are bathed, hydrated, and fed. Never leave a child under the age of say 12 alone in the hospital by themselves. If the you, or the family member, is incapacitated, make sure someone who can speak for you (or for that family member) is in the room every time the doctor(s) make their rounds.

If you have multiple doctors, and you are getting different stories during your hospital stay, or you have a bunch of questions as to the prognosis or treatment, schedule a family conference with the attending physician to get the answers you need.

If the patient is treated poorly, call for the "charge" nurse. That nurse is in charge. Explain that corrective action must be taken or you will be contacting Joint Commission. If you don't know who they are...google them.

This is you or your family member's life. Take charge and make their hospital stay your responsibility. Make sure it is something that the hospital knows darned good and well that you are in charge, not the doctor, and certainly not the medical staff. Be nice, but be thorough and be stallwart. This is serious, so you be serious also.

You can't be a wimp. You have to put on your big girl or boy pants and step up. Do it. You'll be surprized at how much better things go.

-- Posted by Molly Weasley on Fri, Jan 8, 2010, at 7:15 PM

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Aimee graduated from Spencer High School in 1994, and then moved to a large city on the west coast. She returned to Spencer in 2007. Aimee spent more than a decade in veterinary medicine and dog training, and now works in a public library. She lives with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a cat.
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