A young doctor learned some things about patient safety, not from her classes and internships, but from taking care of her mother as she spent months in the hospital fighting breast cancer. While in the hospital, her mother experienced a black eye because an stethoscope fell on her face, frequent falls, preventable drug side effects and hallucinations. Dr Elaine Goodman learned a lot about patient care, safety and medical malpractice from the experience, but she believes that those lessons came at some cost to her mother.
Caring is Not Enough to Prevent Mistakes
Dr. Goodman believes that her mother’s death came more quickly because of the mistakes made by caring, qualified staff. She believes that caring is not enough and that there should be many more standard procedures in place to prevent medical errors.
Bed Alarm Not Working Because of Lack of Electrical Outlets
The doctor believes that the medical errors that hastened her mom’s death occurred not because of the negligence of a specific individual, but because the entire medical community has not taken the steps needed to prevent mistakes. For example, her mother fell out of bed in the middle of the night. There were bed alarms that would have notified staff, but her mom’s was not plugged in, because there weren’t enough outlets in the room. Because all the cords looked alike, it was easy to mistakenly believe that the bed alarm was functioning. This is an easy problem to fix, but nothing had been done, and the patients and staff were forced to live with the situation – to the detriment of Dr. Goodman’s mother.
Read our next post to learn more about the preventable medical errors that Dr Goodman observed while her mother was in the hospital.
Source: ProPublica, “What a New Doctor Learned About Medical Mistakes From Her Mom’s Death,” by Marshall Allen, Jan. 9, 2013.