Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Vanderbilt Nurse

The Medication Error on the News

The recent news about the Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse is getting on-going attention.  While I try not to comment on specific cases, I want to comment on this because it is constantly in my news feed and is deserving of a comment.  Recognizing we don’t have all the details (and probably never will) this is what I want to say.

Many people sympathize with the nurse who allegedly broke rules and gave the patient the wrong medication which supposedly was the cause of death. Nurses rally around her for support.  They have raised thousands of dollars for her defense fund on GoFundMe. There is nothing good to come of this and there will be no happy ending so let’s look at another perspective.

Who is rallying around the family of the 75-year old woman who died?  Where is their support system?  Can they be told how this happened, treated with dignity to understand or are they being made to look the bad guys?  Are the malpractice attorneys’ part of this media blitz to get a faster settlement for the family and bring attention to this case? 

Has the nurse made numerous mistakes before, broken rules and injured or killed many people?  If so, shame on that hospital for keeping her on.  If she has never done this before, then shame on them for not showing sympathy to the family, offering full disclosure, a settlement and a description on how changes will be made for improvement and even retraining the nurse.

For goodness sake if you have ever looked at your cell phone when driving, you can injure or kill someone.  And because you are breaking the law you are held accountable and will be treated as a criminal.  Does anyone really think this nurse committed a crime?  Maybe she’s just not a very good nurse, was in a rush or just made a mistake of poor judgement – does that make her a criminal?

As long as we keep medication errors, medical injuries and patient safety a secret from the public, it will stay newsworthy when someone dies and causes this sort of media attention.

Could this have been avoided if the patient had an advocate and new what medication the patient was supposed to get?  If the patient’s advocate sat with the patient during her treatment could the problem have been found sooner?  We will probably never know.

As long as the healthcare system and medical professionals are the only one’s responsible for patient’s safety and working in silos with the patient and family looking in from the outside, you bet this problem will continue.  As a parent who lost a child from medical error and was chased down by attorney’s calling my home for days wanting to take the case but doors closing from the medical community, I will tell you to this day, years later, all I ever wanted was an apology and an explanation and to move on.

I’m wondering what this family really wants and how this all got to this point.

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