Archive for November, 2010

Centers for Medicare Study, 1 in 7 injured while hospitalized

November 16th, 2010 1 comment

patientinbedThe study results released today by the Office of the Inspector General of the DHHS about Medicare patients is very disturbing.  ONE IN SEVEN medicare hospital inpatients suffered harm because of medical error/or infection.  This is huge. It is unacceptable and it is a big secret from most unsuspecting patients being admitted to the hospital.  Although half of our States have mandated reporting for medical error, not even all of those accurately report medical errors/hospital acquired infections.

How do we change this?  First of all we make them report it.  Mandatory public reporting of medical error and hospital acquired infections is a must.  Without transparency and accountability, there will be no change.   Mistakes and deadly infections will continue to be swept under that dirty rug and paltry investments in prevention will continue.  Second, we support improved staffing at our local facilities.  Safe staffing equals safer patients.  Third, we pressure our legislators to support any and all Safe Patient legislation, including prevention legislation,reporting legislation, patients rights legislation and informed consent legislation.

At the  recent Consumers Union Safe Project summit,  ad campaigns to educate people who are entering the hospital were discussed.  Having blind trust in our hospitals and doctors and other caregivers is a very naive way to conduct one’s self when hospitalized.  Educate yourself about your condition and help others who cannot do that for themselves. Ask if the surgery/treatment/medications are necessary and if there are alternatives.  Get second opinions.  Check out your Doctor’s history and experience.  Ask for your hospitals record on medical error and infections.  Finally take a patient advocate with you.  If you will be impaired physically and/or mentally because of your surgery or medical condition, ask a trusted loved one or friend to be your advocate. Don’t sign your consent for treatment or surgical procedure until you are perfectly clear on all the risks, including infections. Carry a journal for yourself or your advocate to use to document who visited you in the hospital and for what reason, list your medications, etc.  And make sure all of your caregivers, and visitors are washing their hands before touching you.

Don’t count on your hospital to do it all for you….as much as you would like that.  Take a stand for yourself or your loved one. Be prepared and educated.  You will be safer because of it.

Consumers Union, Safe Patient Project Summit

November 15th, 2010 1 comment

Last week, I attended my first CU Safe Patient Project Summit.  Besides the incredible CU staff, about 30 grassroots activists and patient advocates from all over the US attended.  There were the “old timers” and some new faces too.  In that group is the most incredible pool of experiences and knowledge I have ever known.  Our knowledge and wisdom is not really anything we have sought out. This is not a club that people clamor to be part of.  Each of us has had a tragedy in our lives, a loss, a horror that hurts every time we talk about it.  Either we have lost a loved one or some have suffered themselves because of medical error or hospital acquired infection.  Amongst us are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons,  of people who have died or become severely disabled because of  a failure in our healthcare system.  We have a beautiful member who is still suffering and who will this month, have her first day in 4 years without a hole in her gut from flesh eating infection contracted in a hospital.  We have another who was rendered blind during surgery.  These are unspeakable tragedies, and yet we all share this common thread.  We talk to each other about our pain and loss, we cry, and then we haul out the BIG GUNS.

Each of us have done incredible things in our own states and communities to make a difference for others.  None of us want these horrible things to happen to anyone else in our families or our communities.  So, we have taken it upon ourselves to stop the horror.  We have taken on our State hospital and medical associations, our hospitals, our legislators, and others in power to change the broken system that has killed or maimed us or our loves ones.  We don’t know the word “failure”.  It is not an option because it means more will suffer. The healthcare system has already failed, so it’s nothing we will accept.

These meetings are heartbreaking, enlightening, validating. stimulating, educational, and most of all necessary.  We compare notes, share successes, and strategize for future work.  We compile our work and our personal “best practices” and take them home to help us succeed in our next steps toward healthcare safety improvements.

CU gets it.  They know exactly what they are doing by bringing us all together.  Our work, as individuals and as a union will get noticed.  We, with the help of CU, are moving or busting up the big  boulders in our way. We are a movement that will not be ignored or stopped.

Thank you CU for drawing me into this movement.

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