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  • Medical mistakes?

    I think it was Jak's post on another thread that prompted this one. What do you think are the major causes of medical mistakes? Do you think the nursing shortage has anything to do with it, and if so, what can be done to alleviate the problem?

    Ed

  • #2
    I think the nursing shortage has a lot to do with it Ed. Many hospitals are hiring licensed practical nurses who are nothing more than glorified candy stripers. There was a time when an LPN degree was just a few steps down from RN. Now in some schools and diploma mills it seems anything goes.
    This takes away from the many fine R and LPN's who have been educated properly, struggled overworked and underpaid for countless years. They are the one's doing all the medical work while Doctor Glory comes in for his 5 minute appearance, shakes hands, pats you on the head and goes his merry way.
    With the hospitals refusing to reward the hard working nurse, many are unable to continue in the profession...so here come the undereducated.
    Here in NY so many hospital are filled with ignorant, unmotivated, downright lazy part time "nurses" that I'm amazed there aren't more mistakes.
    Shoddy cleansing habits, and an "It's not my job" attitude have taken down what was once and should again be an honored exalted profession.

    And this is coming from a Catholic School teacher which is one step above babysitter !!!

    Debbie

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    • #3
      It doesn't have anything to do with nurses. It's the inequitable medical insurance system in the US. The HMO's are not compensating the medical professionals properly, forcing them to go faster, take on too many patients, cut corners and not perform enough preventative care.
      The american system "reacts" to medical care, instead of performing preventative care. This is even worse in the case of individual state funded medical care for the working class poor.
      A nursing shortage has nothing to do with this.
      The argument here, from my point of view anyway, isn't so much medical mistakes, but rather medical neglect. Performing surgery on the wrong foot of a patient happens, but it's rare; not performing surgery on a person's foot - when they need it, because the HMO (IPA medical group) won't authorize it, is very common, leading to complications down the road for the patient, and costing you and me a lot of money.
      This issue, I believe, will develop into a massive outrage sometime in the next decade.

      Mig

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      • #4
        This issue, I believe, will develop into a massive outrage sometime in the next decade.
        And rightly so. We should be outraged at the poor state of medical care & health insurance in the US...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Mig
          It doesn't have anything to do with nurses. It's the inequitable medical insurance system in the US. The HMO's are not compensating the medical professionals properly, forcing them to go faster, take on too many patients, cut corners and not perform enough preventative care.
          YES! Could not agree more...I'm no nurse but my brother is a CNA and one of my sister's in law is an RN. She worked for a time in the hospital system and became very cynical to the whole thing (cynical is NOT good for a nurse)...and said the very same things Mig says. At one point, just months after graduating, she was placed in charge of the entire Oncology department for the duration of the evening...a brand new nurse in a highly stressful environment...put IN CHARGE! If that's not cutting corners I do not know what is. The sad thing is that it forced her to go look elsewhere for a job. She now works as a TB nurse for the State of South Carolina. The hospitals lost out on a Very intelligent nurse with a 4 year nursing degree, a 4 year Biology degree and working on a Master's soon...these are the types of people the hospitals should be trying to retain at all costs.

          I guess it all comes down to one thing- $$Profit$$! Do we REALLY want our medical system run like a business?

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          • #6
            You know, it's all such a mess that I really don't know what to suggest.

            But...

            What if there was a rule (law) that says, "what your doctor says you need is what you MUST be allowed to have"

            And what if no one without a medical degree were allowed to tell you what kind of treatment you could or couldn't have (and isn't that akin to practicing medicine without a license anyway?)

            And what if there had to be a certain number of nurses (RN's) on EVERY hospital shift. REQUIRED.

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            • #7
              Tips to prevent medical errors if you are a patient

              These include:
              Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
              At least once a year, bring all of your medicines and supplements with you to your doctor. "Brown bagging" your medicines can help you and your doctor talk about them and find out if there are any problems.

              When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it. If you can't read your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.

              When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?
              A study by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences found that 88 percent of medicine errors involved the wrong drug or the wrong dose.

              If you have a choice, choose a hospital at which many patients have the procedure or surgery you need.

              If you are in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who have direct contact with you whether they have washed their hands. (I was amazed at work (NOT a healthcare facility) to hear/see how many women left the restroom without washing their hands. )
              If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done. Doing surgery at the wrong site (for example, operating on the left knee instead of the right) is rare. But even once is too often. The good news is that wrong-site surgery is 100 percent preventable. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges its members to sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery.

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              • #8
                My own opinion is its the allopathic method that doctors use today, treating the symptoms instead of the patient.
                Learn by teaching
                Take responsibility for learning

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                • #9
                  I think it's a combination of things. Although doctors are not forced into taking part in an HMO, many of them do for various reasons. Mig had some good points concerning HMOs, but the problem seems to influenced by many factors.

                  Whether we like it or not, most doctors will cover up for another doctor. A doctor has to really be bad before most will say anything about his practice. This means he has to botch things up several times, thereby inviting lawsuits, and raising malpractice insurance rates for all. There are doctors who will take it on themselves to censure another doctor when it is plain that he (she) is incompetent. The ones who cover up for others only add to the problem.

                  My wife is a registered nurse, who worked in hospitals for several years. She never made a mistake that would have put a patient in jeopardy, but she has been put in a position (understaffing) that she had to have luck on her side, more than once. She was an extremely organized and competent nurse, who is not now working, but she continues to hold her license. Much, if not all of what Debbie said is valid. Good, competent nurses have been routinely underpaid, overworked and not recognized as the professionals they are. This is a major reason for the current nursing shortage.

                  Of course there are other factors that contribute to medical mistakes. Some of them are human in nature, and that's something that can't be avoided.

                  Ed

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've had at least my share of medical mistakes, it took about 5 months and probably 10 different mis-diagnosis before the doc's figured out what was wrong with my knees. I really think surgeons need a better system for before operations; Just before my surgery while i was waiting, my surgeon asked me which side he was gonna be operating on, which scared the heck out of me ("what if they operate on the wrong side?!?!" ) he DID do it right but it wasn't nice going into the surgery worrying about whether wondering if they're operating on the correct side.

                    - David

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by d_kendal
                      Just before my surgery while i was waiting, my surgeon asked me which side he was gonna be operating on, which scared the heck out of me ("what if they operate on the wrong side?!?!" )
                      I would have jumped up and hobbled on out of there!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        lol, yep that was definitely on my mind, but if i had tried it i probably would have fallen over attempting to do it

                        - David

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The British NHS and Medical system is totally screwed up as well.

                          I have worked as a nursing auxiliary in a psychiatric ward and the main problems were always under staffing. I shift leaders/ ward managers always had to explain if they ordered more staff or called in an agency nurse .... it was like the Spanish inquisition just for safety!

                          David, If in doubt take out a ball point pen and right on your good knee ' please operated on the other side' with a whole bunch of arrows! It might look stupid but at least it would wake them up and to look on your notes.

                          Clare

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                          • #14
                            I've had at least my share of medical mistakes, it took about 5 months and probably 10 different mis-diagnosis before the doc's figured out what was wrong with my knees.
                            I can sympathize with that, David. It's horrible...

                            I have a fairly rare (and fairly painful) medical condition that started when I was 12 years old. I was pooh-poohed by gawd knows how many doctors until one was finally able to diagnose it. That was only 4 years ago. I'm 43 years old right now. It took 27 years.

                            And, that diagnosis was just a lucky accident as I had to see a different doctor in the practice I was using since my own regular doctor was called out to deliver a baby while I was there for my appointment. The brilliant man I saw instead recognized my problem immediately...

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                            • #15
                              I have watched several people die and/ go through complete hell because of medical mistakes. My friend's mom just died of colon cancer after being mis-diagnosed for YEARS with irratable bowel syndrome.

                              CJ - As far as the list of things you can do to avoid mistakes, add this one:

                              IF YOU HAVE A LOVED ONE IN THE HOSPITAL, PARTICULARLY ONE WHO CANNOT SOMEWHAT CARE FOR THEMSELVES, YOU *MUST* SIT WITH THEM (OR TAKE SHIFTS WITH THE FAMILY) 24 HOURS A DAY TO MAKE SURE THEY GET CARE.

                              I could go into detail of 6 months of 2001 where I sat next to my grandmother in the hospital night and day because she could not move, and watched people give her the wrong tests, wrong medicine, she was ignored when she started going into Congestive Heart Failure, and it wasn't until a REALITIVE got there and raised hell that she was cared for, and even then it was spotty. One day she told us that nobody had been in, and we found out the nurse didn't even know she was assigned to her - so my grandmother was without care for who knows how long.

                              AND - this month long hospital stay and 8 month rehabilitation was due to a medication (Baycol - finally pulled from the market in Aug. 2001) to begin with, because a brilliant cardiologist decided that now was the time, at age 84, to lower her cholesterol.
                              When we carried her into the doctors office because she didn't have enought muscle stregnth to lift her head from the pillow, they told us to go home and make her drink lots of water. We had to BEG them the following day to admit her to the hospital.

                              This was a woman who had been outside washing her car just days before....

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