Sad, but all too common experiences with healthcare

I read Warner Crocker’s musings at GottaBeMobile as well as his Tweets via the @LPH/tablet-pc-enthusiasts list on Twitter. Warner also has a second blog called Life On the Wicked Stage: Act 2, which I do not read with any regularity. I was, however, driven toward his personal blog secondary to a Twitter post. The post, titled Rush and My Mom: Two Different Care Experiences, talks a little about his experiences with his mothers medical care. She is apparently very ill with lung cancer. I sympathize with Warner as my mother-in-law, Mary Lou, succumbed to lung cancer in December of 2008. I also understand much of what he is talking about as my wife and I experienced similar problems during Mary Lou’s chemotherapy, pain management and surgeries.

According to Warner “On one hospital visit as Mom was being given her morning round of medications the nurse wheeled in the computer terminal with the meds. She scanned my mother’s wrist band, then preceded to scan my mother’s meds. She noticed for one prescription that she only had one pill and not the two that were ordered. No problem, she exclaimed. She scanned the one pill twice and said she would be back with the second. Mom downed the meds. 40 minutes later, I went looking for the nurse and reminded her about the second pill. At first she seemed confused. Then she said, “good eye” I would have forgotten. Intriguingly, the computer wouldn’t have. It thought all was well and good.” So much for BCMA. I wish there was a way to remove the “human factor” from many of our technological advances.

In another example of problems experienced by Warner and his mother, he chronicles a near overdoes of chemotherapy as their oncologist and nurse practitioner failed to adjust her dosage based on renal impairment. “This is where the example comes in. Mom started chemo on New Year’s Eve. As the nurse practitioner was preparing the dose she said that this could cause a reaction in her kidneys. My sister put the brakes on at that moment and reminded the NP that Mom was working with a kidney specialist. This brought a halt to everything. They went back to Mom’s file, found the pertinent info, were surprised to see it, called the oncologist, re-issued the dose of chemo, and finally all moved on.”

I don’t think most people realize how common the above examples are in healthcare. People who believe this type of thing is rare are naïve. As an industry, healthcare not only has a long way to go in catching up with technology, but a long way to go in taking care of patients as well. Perhaps the Obama administration should focus on that.

I always pay close attention to medication use with the members of my family. I question physicians and nurses all the time and have forced the issue on several occasions. This has allowed me to catch numerous errors and blunders over the years. What do families that don’t have a healthcare professional in them do?

I wish Warner and his mother all the best and hope that everything goes smoothly from here on out.

3 thoughts on “Sad, but all too common experiences with healthcare”

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