Medical mistakes happen way too often in this United States, which is why Oprah and Dr. Oz sat down this week to discuss some harrowing malpractice errors that have occurred to real people. Dr. Oz also offered some suggestions on what you can do to be an advocate for your own medical care.
He says that despite their best efforts, doctors, nurses, and medical technicians are only human. People get busy, easily distracted, and make mistakes. However, it is important that they not make a mistake on a patient. Unlike most other professional fields, where mistakes are more easily remedied, a surgical error, the wrong diagnosis, or the wrong medication dose can be a matter of life and death.
For example, movie Star Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly experienced this firsthand when their newborn twins nearly died after being given the wrong dosage of Heparin. Rather than being administered 10 units of the blood thinner, they were given 10,000 units each—on two occasions. This caused the babies to bleed out. The medical mistakes occurred because a pharmacy technician placed bigger bottles of Heparin with bottles that contained smaller dose. A nurse failed to make sure the bottles she picked up contained the correct dose.
Another woman reports having 24 lymph nodes removed and undergoing a mastectomy after doctors diagnosed her with a rare form of breast cancer. Eight days after the procedure, she was told that there had been a mix-up with her biopsy sample. She actually never had breast cancer. She did have neck cancer. Treatment for that had been delayed so doctors could deal with her breast cancer first. Meantime, the other woman who received the wrong cancer-free diagnosis had to be notified that she was suffering from breast cancer.
One cancer survivor, Chef Grant Achatz, took his medical care into his own hands. In the culinary world, Achatz is considered a genius for the innovative cuisine he offers at his restaurant Alinea, located in Chicago. Achatz’s culinary career could have come to a halt after he found out that he had Stage 4 cancer on his tongue if he had followed the treatment recommendations of four doctors.
His cancer diagnosis had been delayed three years after first his dentist and a general practitioner determined that the white spot on his tongue was stress-related. When another doctor finally diagnosed him correctly, that doctor and then three others told him that he would need to have parts of his tongue and jaw removed, as well as undergo a radical neck dissection.
Achatz refused and found a doctor who allowed him to undergo chemotherapy before determining whether such radical procedures were necessary. Achatz is now cancer-free.
Dr. Oz says it is important that patients be their own advocate and not leave their lives in the hands of doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other medical providers who can make mistakes. He offers a number of recommendations about how to become a smarter patient:
• Make sure that medical workers have washed their hands and are using sanitized instruments on your body.
• If you are going to have surgery on one side of your body, write on that part of the body to remind the surgeon on which side he or she should operate.
• Avoid making small talk with your doctor so that you don’t distract him or her.
• Choose a hospital with the latest technology.
• Find out if your hospital uses a preflight checklist to prevent simple mistakes during surgery.
• Make sure that you go to an accredited hospital that is in good standing.
• Research your choice of a doctor to make sure he or she has the experience and skills to provide you with the kind of care that you need.
If your condition grew worse or you were injured or if someone you love died because a medical provider gave you a delayed diagnosis, a wrong diagnosis, the wrong medication, or made another medical mistake, you may have grounds for filing a Kentucky medical malpractice lawsuit.
Related Web Resources:
Dr Oz, Discovery Health
Proactive Patient Checklist, Imaginis
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