Monday, September 1, 2014

Living with medical errors

I have a picture some place of when I went for knee surgery in 2001 of me home from the hospital with a big bandage on my right knee and the word "NO" scrawled in big letters on  my right knee. This was written by the surgeon after triple confirming with me.

Then I have the memory of me after gall bladder surgery in 2008 where I heard the nurses talking about the excessive bruising on my abdomen after a laproscopic procedure. Basically I heard the doctor must have been really rough on me because of the size and speed at which the bruise arrived - and ho w long it hurt afterwards.

In the past few years the state of Massachusetts has started requiring hospitals to report medical incidents - anything from a fall, surgery problem, wrong medicine, bedsores - annually. In the past three years - 2011-2013 - the rate has risen extensively from 366 incidents to 444 to 753 in 2013. And you say 'why the increase?' How about the electronic reporting system was adopted in 2012.

This all makes me say hmmmm..... Its nice the state wants the data reported and is requiring the electronic reporting system so that things can't be swept under the rug, so to speak. But what about me as a patient?

There is all sorts of advice given but I think it goes down to your comfort level. Lets face it, errors happen in life, 'to err is human'. But as patients we need to speak up and ask questions - what will happen, what should I expect, and communicate with family members so they can ask questions.

I would like to say that of the 753 events in 2013, 282 or 37.5% were from falls. The next largest group was 230 or 30.5% were from bedsores. The leading number after that was 44 serious injury or death from medication error.

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