I think there are many things I wcnt to see in health care reform but one place I believe cannot be overlooked is the issue of medical errors. A recent study showed the spread and depth of this problem. My thoughts are this:
- There are fewer doctors and nurses than there are patients. So they are each seeing several each day. I am sure I would be confused by things by the end of the day. You start to get tired and its easy to make mistakes.
- Anything can be miscommunicated. Communication from and to the patient and between medical professionals must be clear. Systems must be used. Every time I go to the doctor I am asked to verify my name, address and date of birth several times as identifiers. A friend told me recently that she went for a test and they didn't ask all the identifiers and almost gave her an injection meant for someone else with a similar name.
- Patients need to be alert and aware. Its your body. You only have one. Doctors and nurses are busy seeing lots of patients. If you are going to the doctor, be sure you know why and have a list of questions on any issues. If you are going for a procedure, make sure you know exactly what will be done and that the nurses and doctors all know it too. When I go for my back procedures, once I am on the table, before they start, they do a check and all confirm, my name, address, age, date of birth and what they are about to do. When I had knee surgery, the doctor came in before hand and wrote on the operating knee a big fat "YES" in marker, and a "NO" on the other knee.
All that being said, everyone involved is human and can make a mistake. When you are not feeling well, a big reason for being at the doctor, it can be harder to communicate clearly or to understand what you are being told. There are also horrible tragic stories of unwarranted deaths or life long disabilities due to medical errors.
But the point of all this is that many states now don't even have a way of tracking medical errors. There are no laws in place for this. This is where health care reform should start. Go read the article in the link and look at how your state is doing for medical errors. Then write your senator. This needs to be part of medical overhaul.
Off my soap box. Today, I am calm, cool, and collected (ha, ha, ha) as I head to the radiation oncologist for a follow up. Little does she know this will also include a discussion of the state of my bone structure which seems to be having some issues - to say the least. I am hoping for some mega reassurances in the form of some fancy tests that will clarify that there is nothing by old age going on in my back. Then off to work and then back to the hardware store to buy another light fixture for the upstairs bathroom.
I will say, that in some ways my days are easier when I am not trying to fit in my daily walk.