Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Nurse's Error at Vanderbilt Kills a Patient: My Perspective

Nurses Error Kills a Patient at Vanderbilt

In this article about a nurse who killed a patient because she gave the patient the wrong medication silently explains how such a terrible mistake could happen.  So many people who work in healthcare know how these mistakes happen, and happen, and happen.  No one asked my opinion so here it is:

And now what?  

If we look at the ‘airline industry” as so many people in patient safety do, because in 2001 one person came onto a plane with an explosive devise in his shoe, we, as travelers have been taking our shoes off before boarding a plane – because of ONE incident where NO one died.  How about all the support the patient’s family would receive if the patient died from cancer, heart disease or even a fall. 

What are people saying to the family now?  Probably expecting a lawsuit, a fight, punishment or accountability.  If it were an auto accident there would be insurance so the patient’s family could get compensation and they could move on – no less sad or angry but at least compensated.

In medical care there are so many reasons for these errors to happen and if you are someone who works in the industry you obviously see this.  Yet, as a patient or family member we don’t see how this could happen because no one is explaining this to the public.  So, how can the public possibly be sympathetic to an overworked, underpaid and probably very caring healthcare professional?

My work in patient safety started because of the death of my son but what I learned is that there are so many obstacles to safe care.  If we all, healthcare professionals, patients and the public were all part of the conversation – changes could finally be made.  Writing about this on Facebook – where I found this story - is not enough – there is too much to do and pumping resources into hospitals to keep doing things the same way did not help this patient who died and surely didn’t help this nurse who made the mistake.    

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