My father died as a result of a missed diagnosis. He was in the coronary intensive care unit at a teaching hospital in upstate NY after suffering a heart attack at his home. He was treated in a timely manner at an outside hospital with streptokinase to dissolve any clots, then transferred to the teaching hospital for angiography to determine what further action to take.
While waiting for the cardiac surgeon to review the test results, and while on anticoagulants, my father developed knee swelling and sciatica-like pain in the same leg where the angiography had been performed. He was treated for days with narcotic pain killers for sciatica, which only succeeded in making him constipated.
No one noticed that he was bleeding massively into his retroperitoneum from his angiocath site. Twice-daily lab results demonstrating the blood loss were ignored. Six days after the angiogram, while straining on a bedside commode, he had another cardiac event.
Hours later, an attending physician finally saw the lab evidence of massive blood loss and transfusions were ordered, but inexplicably they were not administered until many hours later, when his heart muscle was already irretrievably damaged. He went into cardiac arrest and died the day before he had been scheduled to go home.
My mother and sister arrived at the hospital for their regular afternoon visit, only to find the staff doing CPR on my father. The physicians told her he was sicker than they thought. The discharge summary was filled with lies about what had happened as they tried to cover up their mistakes. It was the nurses’ notes along with the timed and dated lab results that told the real story.
How do I know this? Because I am a physician and I requested the chart. Most families will never find out about diagnostic errors. They will be lied to and have no way to find out the truth. Unless, of course, they sue. Often that is the only recourse for patients and families who feel they have suffered medical malpractice. Their hands are forced because of the “white coat conspiracy” to keep the truth from being known.
I used to think that doctors were the innocent victims of ambulance-chasing attorneys and litigious patients. I now realize that physicians have also contributed to any malpractice crisis that exists, because as a group they cover up mistakes all the time.
My father never got to benefit from the bypass surgery that had been scheduled for two weeks later. He had just turned 70, and had just applied for Social Security benefits after working his entire life. He never saw the first check.
V.E.C.

PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:

Dear Dr. V.E.C.
Your tragic story strikes a painful and powerful chord for us. Joe’s mother Helen went into one of the country’s best teaching hospitals over 16 years ago for a “routine” angiogram. The cardiologists were going to check out the arteries in her heart to see if there was a problem.
Given that she was 92 years old, it was not surprising when they discovered that one artery did indeed have some blockage, which they opened with angioplasty. By 5:00 pm that evening she was looking great, feeling wonderful and looking forward to going home the next day. At 92 she was still sharp as a tack and fully engaged with life.
Tragically, that night, after she had fallen asleep, a resident injected two drugs into her IV line. One was Demerol (meperidine) and the other was Phenergan (promethazine). [Her medical chart said she was to receive NO opioid pain medicine because of severe sensitivity to such drugs. Meperidine should never have been administered! Joe even told the night nurse on her floor about this emphatically a few hours earlier.]
The meperidine interacted with another medicine she was taking to cause serotonin syndrome. When she called Joe to say she had been poisoned in the early morning hours and to “come quick,” the tragedy was already well underway. Her body was thrashing uncontrollably. Although the nurses had tied her legs to the foot of the bed, she could not stop the convulsive leg movements.
Just as with your father, the site where they had inserted the catheter had begun to bleed into her body (retroperitoneum). The next morning she fell on the way to the bathroom and died shortly thereafter. The death certificate stated that Helen Graedon’s death was caused by “cardiac arrest” due to “hypotension” (low blood pressure) as a consequence of “retroperitoneal hemorrhage” (internal bleeding).
From your account above, it seems as if your father and Joe’s mother died because of a very similar situation. In your father’s case, it was in large part because of a missed diagnosis. In Helen’s case, it was precipitated by a deadly drug interaction that caused her legs to contract uncontrollably for hours, leading to internal bleeding and low blood pressure that was not detected.
Like you, we received no clear explanation of what had happened and how it had happened. We had to ask probing questions and review the chart to discover for ourselves the various mistakes that had been made, and there were many. Although we have tried for the last 37 years to protect others from dangerous drug interactions and medical mistakes, we could not protect Joe’s mother from such a fate. It remains a source of frustration and pain to this day. As you so poignantly point out, most families will never learn about diagnostic mistakes.
David Newman-Toker, MD, PhD, is a neurologist at Johns Hopkins. He has studied the problem of diagnostic errors over the last few years and has determined that this one problem accounts for at least 150,000 deaths and/or serious harm to patients each year. His research suggests that diagnostic errors are “the most frequent, most severe, and most costly of medical mistakes” in malpractice cases that result in payments to patients and families.
That’s why we wrote Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. We have tried to provide tips and tools to patients and health professionals to help reduce the number of mistakes that are made every day in this country, both in hospitals and in the outpatient setting. We must end the epidemic of errors that is one of the leading causes of death in this country and we must end the “white coat conspiracy” and code of silence you wrote about so that we can start to fix the problem. Until then, however, patients need to be vigilant, expect mistakes and diagnostic errors, and protect themselves from the kinds of tragedies that took your father and Joe’s mother.
We invite other readers (patients, family members and health professionals) to share their stories below:

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  1. JBG
    Reply

    Anger in these situations is natural and understandable. But the solution is not to identify a miscreant (or several, or a whole organization) and hang them. It is because that is often done, or at least attempted, that so much lying and covering-up goes on.
    The right solution is to make it OK, expected, and risk-free for medical personnel to report every problem or suspected problem so that analysis can be undertaken and preventive procedures found. This is the way things are done in the airline industry, and is the reason, for example, that explicit checklists are used so often in aviation, whereas they’re only slowly coming into use in medicine.
    This isn’t my idea. I’ve read about it many times. I may even have heard about it on People’s Pharmacy. But I’m convinced it’s the way to go, and the sooner, the better.

  2. Nancy M.
    Reply

    My mother had a heart attack in 2003. After a stent and pacemaker were installed, she was able to live fairly normally for several years. Last November, she began vomiting blood and was taken to a local hospital. The hospital staff decided that she had internal bleeding from an overdose of Coumadin. Her PT/INR was stabilized and the bleeding subsequently stopped.
    However, I was alarmed at how distended her belly was – like a seven-month pregnancy. I asked the doctors several times why this was, and they insisted that it was just gas and constipation, and prescribed enemas and laxatives. The swelling still did not go down, so I asked for the hospital to transfer her to the Medical Center in Houston, near my home. They refused, saying that they only way they could do that was if they were not able to provide they level of care she needed, and she did not meet the criteria.
    The day after she was discharged, I drove her to Houston and had her admitted to the major heart facility. They discovered that she had cirrhosis of the liver related to the heart condition, and the bleeding had been due to portal hypertensive gastropathy. The swelling was ascites from the failing liver.
    She is now being treated by a liver specialist, and has to go for paracentesis every three weeks to have the fluid drawn off. What would have happened if we had not insisted on another opinion? I don’t know, but it astounds me that the very obvious symptoms were so casually dismissed.
    If your gut tells you something isn’t right, you MUST investigate further. Don’t worry about making the doctors angry – remember they work for YOU.

  3. DL
    Reply

    My father died after walking into the hospital to self-admit for what he thought was a bowel problem. It was actually his first heart attack, ironically after passing his physical weeks before. He was 71. The medical staff were aware he had been on an antidepressant for many years, and they took him off it cold turkey. They then performed the angioplasty while he was in withdrawal, and based on his behavior yet another doctor decided his situation warranted a powerful anti-psychotic.
    Prior to entering the hospital, my father never suffered psychosis or delusions, only run-of-the-mill depression for which he had been successfully treated on an outpatient basis for many years.
    A sibling of mine, a medical student, learned that the anti-psychotic they chose to give him was high-risk for cardiac patients. She questioned the doctor who administered it and the hospital pharmacist for failure to flag the drug. All parties were indifferent to the family’s complaint. After nearly a week in the hospital, despite the fact that our Father was NOT dependent upon on life-support, he had yet to undergo a single bypass surgery. We were essentially told there was a waiting list! The entire time he was left to “stabilize”, he was heavily sedated and unable to use a restroom or communicate.
    It never appeared to dawn on the staff that any measure needed to be taken to guard against severe constipation, in spite of his history of colitis. A week into his stay, meanwhile, a nurse decided that the foot pumps might be startling him so she turned them off. A day or so beforehand, my father had begun to run a fever. After antibiotics failed to work doctors belatedly ran lab work to learn that it was a blood-borne inflection “probably from the tubes”, as more than one nurse casually remarked — as if to imply this happens every day in ICU!
    By the time the correct antibiotic had been identified, some 72 hours of ineffectual antibiotic treatment had lapsed. Although he had not yet begun to suffer major organ failure, the sepsis placed him at additional risk of blood clot. On day 11 after admittance he suffered a sudden “event” for which doctors failed to give any explanation. He died. Was it a clot, such as pulmonary embolism? We do not know. Was it a stroke? We do not know. Was it another cardiac arrest? We do not know.
    Some months after the incident I signed a consumer advocacy petition to disclose hospital infection rates, for which I wrote an impassioned plea regarding the preventable illness my Father suffered at what is regarded as a good hospital in our community. I received a letter back from my state representatives (California) essentially saying “Sorry for your loss but this would cost hospitals too much to comply with.”
    Am I to believe that hospitals don’t already track their hospital-acquired infection rates internally and that making these documents available to the public would merely represent a minor expense in the grand scheme of things?
    Bottom line? My Father died of any number of medical mistakes: Sedating him for 10 days so that he was essentially comatose “for his anxiety” while doing nothing to ensure that he did not develop a bowel obstruction; failing to consistently facilitate mechanical circulation in the legs despite loss of ambulation due to sedation; failure to identify a drug-resistant infection for timely treatment; failure to flag or otherwise question the necessity of a psychiatric drug whose chief risk was no less than cardiac arrest (preceded by decision to withdraw an SSRI “cold turkey” upon admittance)!
    For the sake of all the families that undoubtedly came after and suffered similar losses at this hospital, I really wish our family had sued to force it to clean up its act. Alas, that was nine years ago and undoubtedly the statute of limitations has run out. Oh — and to add insult to injury, that same hospital grossly over-billed for services (as I later learned nearly everyone I knew, including myself, who had had any outpatient or inpatient services there had experienced).

  4. sk
    Reply

    This true story bears repeating here (first shared 6/11/11.
    Perhaps now is the time to tell a very painful story. It might alert some listeners/readers who might tend to dismiss these findings on hospital errors.
    Practically “never sick a day in his adult life” my father started feeling bad at age 58 (1977). He went to “the best” nearby university medical center. A cyst was found on his pancreas and removed. He returned home, and immediately felt well again.
    But about three days later the hospital called saying that the biopsy on the tissue removed indicated that it may have been pancreatic cancer, which is known to spread rapidly to the stomack and intestine, and that, to safeguard against the further spread of the cancer, they recommended immediate surgery to remove the pancreas, part of the stomack, and part of the large intestine.
    My mother tells the story that when they returned to the hospital to prepare for the second surgery an attending physician strongly urged my father to wait before undergoing what was considered radical surgery, of doubtful benefit, until there were clear signs that cancer of the pancreas was in fact present, and that it was spreading. He explained that, without a pancreas, the patient would then have to take pig pancreas extract daily in order to digest food.
    For reasons that never have been clear to me, Dad decided to undergo the surgery. He died about 18 months later in June 1979, at the age of 60. The pig pancreas extract did not work, and we watched a 6″ 2′, 210 pound man waste away. He weighed about 70 pounds when he died.
    Our mother told us that, prior to making the final payments for the surgery, when she was going through the medical records sent by the hospital, she found a copy of the biopsy test report on the tissue from the cyste removal, and it was negative for cancer. Of course, the whole family was shocked, dismayed, and felt the incident was nearly unbelievable.
    On the one hand it could be argued that this was not a case of hospital error. On the other hand, in a broader context, it probably could be very successfully argued that, in fact, this was exactly a case of hospital error.

  5. T.Almedina
    Reply

    I am very sorry for the loss of your mother. I suffered the loss of my father two years ago and I actually have to think if it was that long ago, feels like it was so recent still. My father was suddenly diagnosed with diabetes in the summer and put on insulin. He was saying his upper back hurt and a man who could eat anything suddenly had no appetite. By Christmas he didn’t even want any christmas dinner or to even to sit at the table with the family. A few weeks later he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
    They kept giving him drugs for pain and after the first one his chief complaint was that he couldn’t breathe. The drugs came prescribed so quickly and he seemed to just get worse. I had asked the Dr. how long my dad had and was told about six months. He was hospitalised twice in one week and the second time sent home with hospice and more drugs. I demanded from my family that we take him somewhere else because this Dr. was a geriatric specialist not a pancreatic doctor in any way. My father died eight hours later, we had the appointment with the specialist in five more hours.
    It was infuriating that his doctor wouldn’t admit he had no experience with this condition. He refused to send him when I told the doctor that my dad wanted to go to a specialist. He told me “If he wants to go you will have to take him there yourself but he won’t make it”.
    I did research on all of the medications my father had been prescribed and EVERY one of them had the side effect of”difficulty breathing”, which was my fathers initial complaint!
    One last thing, my Mom had to look over her health insurance to see what should keep. She had called the company to get information sent to her. When she looked it over she told me she wanted me to read something. The insurance papers said that if you get diagnosed with cancer you and a loved one can be sent to a cancer care treatment center-at no cost to you! READ YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY!!
    Thank you for an informative program

  6. JW
    Reply

    I have advanced glaucoma and have endured surgeries to help “manage” it. Let me tell you briefly what happened. I was supposed to have trabeculectomy surgery, which is simply drainage holes are cut into the eyes. One eye is done at a time. The first surgery was uneventful and almost painless. I wasn’t afraid to have the next one done.
    Unfortunately for me, during the second surgery the anesthesia stopped working. I complained to the doctor and he said it was only a few more minutes. I had an IV in the back of my hand. No medicine got to me for about twenty minutes of pure hell while he cut my eye with razor sharp instruments. It was all I could do to remain lying down and almost got up. I got violently ill after getting home too because they overdosed me on anesthesia that did work until I got home.
    The drainage holes in both eyes healed right back shut in two weeks too. The whole ordeal was for NOTHING. This occurred at a very large teaching hospital in Syracuse NY. Do not have surgeries at teaching hospitals. That surgery was barbaric.
    The surgeon, a well known opthamologist who’s been in practice for years was the one who operated on me. I should have sued him for causing me to have PTSD now. I currently have express shunts implanted, which were placed in a smaller hospital under total anesthesia since I can’t tolerate partial at this point.
    I wish I could cut on that doctor’s eyes with fish hooks. Sorry for the comparison. I am angry and just glad to be able to rat this doctor out. I wish I could state his name, but just remember the warning.

  7. Toni
    Reply

    So happy to have found this site…… Several years ago I went into OHSU for a roux en Y (weight-loss surgery) and they gave me the wrong surgery. I got a surgery that actually removed a large part of my stomach and damaged the sphincter that is supposed to keep food from back flowing into the esophagus.
    I did ask for the right surgery to be performed or to be given a lap band but the surgeon said he didn’t leave me enough stomach for a lap band. So that was out. I contacted a professional hospital about getting some help with this journey but they didn’t want to touch me as they said I had too much scar tissue left over from the previous surgery….. they never gave me a cat scan before they did this “minimally invasive robotic surgery.”
    Of course I suffer with Barrett’s syndrome now and work hard to keep my acid level down….. I am happy to even be alive and appreciate the info on this site more than I can say. Thank you for being here for us.

  8. abigail
    Reply

    response to pattylu- Do you mean Trisha Torrey ?

  9. B G Y
    Reply

    I am 69 yrs old went into the hospital 3 yrs ago to have a stent put in my heart the surgeon put 1 stent in that night I had a severe heart attack 6 nurses had the doctor on the phone and they were injecting all kinds of I don`t know what in to me well the next morning another doctor went in and found out she missed a stent so the bottom of my heart is dead I was in pretty good shape before that procedure now I can’t climb ladders any more I had to stop work cause I live with angina every day and wear the patch and still have to pop nitro pills they ruined my life. I get short of breath and angina pain almost24/7.
    Thank You Sincerley
    Barry G. Y. GOD BLESS

  10. pattylu
    Reply

    Just finished reading the horror stories in White Coat Conspiracy Covers Medical Screwups, and want to thank you. I am 86 years of age and completely alone, and I am fully aware of my vulnerability. In another newsletter the subject of hiring an advocate was covered, along with information as to how to find one.
    This is prepared by Tricia Torrey and I will be glad to provide her information for you to contact her should you wish. She covers many subjects regarding patient empowerment. In my opinion, both you and Patricia Torrey have the most informative and useful newsletters online.
    Sincerely,
    Patricia C.

  11. L. L. A.
    Reply

    This may not come under the heading of “screw-ups” but it points to an egregious practice in too may E R’s.. My husband & I watch out for a neighbor who is 88 years old, diabetic, has congestive heart failure – very weak heart, macular degeneration with about 70% eyesight. One day my husband went to her house to bring her to dinner. She didn’t respond to his horn or her phone. he went in the house and found her in a diabetic coma.
    The medics responded and worked 45 minutes to stabilize her and transported her to the E R. about 6:30 P M. We were shocked the next morning to find her home. AT 12:30 A M THEY PUT HER IN A TAXI FOR THE 10 MILE RIDE TO HER RURAL HOME (NO STREET LIGHTS) no one asked if she even had a key to her house or money to pay the cab. No one called us.
    This is not an isolated incidence. Apparently medicare will not pay for any service other than stabilization if it is not an admit-able condition. My husband should have gone with her but he felt she was in good hands.

  12. BJS
    Reply

    I am an 85 year old female and have a problem with my family physician and prescriptions for UTI and any other infection. Every scrip he writes for me makes me ill. Nausea, pain in my stomach, migraine headaches, dizzy etc. I know my doctor is impatient with me because after a week of feeling terrible I give up on the meds. I know it is me – for some reason my system just does not tolerate these scrips. I don’t know what to do and I know my doctor is impatient with me, almost angry. I feel he thinks I am faking.
    Doctor used to prescribe Cipro for UTI but lately said I cannot take it because of my age and that it would interact badly with another scrip that I take, probably my BP pills. The scrips make me more ill than the infection. I do not know what to say to my doctor any more. My husband believes I should see a different doctor for an opinion.

  13. ls
    Reply

    I have been a critical car nurse for more than 45 years and presently work per diem in a busy inner city emergency room. I am fortunate not to have been involved in any problems regarding incorrect meds or wrong care but am very aware that it occurs. My family knows that if I am not there to understand what is happening they are to repeat it back to the md or nurse. Everyone needs a second set of ears so the mistakes and misunderstandings do not happen. It is your right to question. Mistakes do happen but they definitely could be lessened.

  14. s.h.
    Reply

    This article hit home. Like a rock, it hit! Ten years ago, a medical mistake killed my father. A nurse found him, and administered CPR.
    Dad was in a nursing home and was 77. Never had he ever had high blood sugar. Because he was in constant pain, he moaned too much, and folks complained, which was understandable. (Side note: he had spinal stenosis and surgery never helped, but made things worse.)
    He was repeatedly put on and taken off anti-depressants, which we know partially caused constant electrical shooting pains in his hands and arms. He was desperate for pain relief, but his family Dr. Would not prescribe anything but Tylenol#3. I begged the doc for something more and was told to find another doc.
    Thanks to my stubbornness, I found a geriatric np that would visit the nursing home and the Dr she worked with gladly prescribed pain patch/duragesic. It was in the last few months of life and he was pain free!)
    One day I got a call stating that my father was dead, but CPR got him back. I was told that the hospital ER was expecting my arrival. When I got there, I was ushered into a “family waiting room”, because when I arrived, I was asked if I was “the daughter”. I said yes. I was seated in the corner and had to watch another mess up: the wife and children were sitting there when the doctor came in and told them that the husband/father was dead. They began to sob while I sat in the corner. It was heart wrenching. After they were being led out of the waiting room, I asked the doctor, “what about my daddy?”. He seemed surprised. I had to explain that my dad had died, etc.
    I was led into the ER to my daddy’s bedside. It was awful. All this was because of a medical accident that no one wanted to admit. I asked a tech what happened as he gave dad a huge dose of glucose. Glucose!
    His sugar level was 19 when he got to ER.
    I spoke with a doctor in the ER area. He said that they saw the same kind of situations very often with nursing home folk. He said that insulin was so quickly to be absorbed (forgot his medical term) that there was not a way to prove negligence. It was a list cause.
    I found out that back at the nursing home, Daddy had been moved into a room, and was in the bed space where a DIABETIC HAD BEEN. He was given a shot of insulin! Insulin meant for the patient that had been in the room at an earlier time.

  15. Noah Vaile
    Reply

    This is why you should never leave a loved one alone in the hospital.
    You never know when a ‘white-coated-angel-of-mercy’ will accidentally or negligently kill them if you do. Always ask what the procedure they are about to embark on is, what the drug(s) they are administering are and clarify everything that is about to be done before it becomes a fate-accompli.

  16. Angela M. R.
    Reply

    I read your book, Scewup etc. and found it so frightening, I pray my family and I are spared.
    In 1962 (when we thought the doctors were one step below God) my father, 71, had a stroke. He was brought to the county hospital because his income had diminished. He was so doped up, he didn’t realize the patient in the next bed was dead. I don’t know when hospital personnel discovered it. My father told my mother I had been making faces at him. First, I would never do that. Second, I was overdue in my pregnancy, and I didn’t leave the house until I went into labor. It was years before we realized that medical people dope up the patients to keep them still and quiet. I spent a couple of days at a re-hab 2 years ago and witnessed a row of wheelchair bound patients sitting quietly and still. Still doping up patients!!

  17. V. S.
    Reply

    I retired from my 30 year plus career as an RN thoroughly disillusioned by the so-called “health care” system. I was sick of administering so many pills to elderly people. In long term care the whole nursing responsibility revolves around giving medications.
    I knew that if I sent any patient to visit their doctor, that they would come back with at least one more medication to take, probably two or three. I wanted to say to the doctor, “Why are you pushing these pills upon elderly people? You take them yourself and see how you feel!!” But of course, I would have been fired.
    The inter-relationship between the medical community, the pharmaceutical business, universities, hospitals and long term care institutions needs to be investigated by Congress. Of course they won’t do it because of their ties to big pharma.

  18. Jay R.
    Reply

    My wife had cancer surgery at a large cancer/teaching hospital. She could not eat. A nurse told me that I could eat her meals since she could not eat. I did. Three days later a teaching fellow comes in and discharges my wife from the hospital.
    I explained that she had not eaten since surgery. The doctor explained that she had eaten everything on her tray at each meal because records were kept of her food intake when the tray was removed from her room. The doctor would not believe my explanation. She was discharged. We went home. I returned her to the emergency room that night. The good news is that she made it. This was a lesson for me. I hope it will help you.

  19. Meris
    Reply

    My mother is living in a care facility whose drug program is managed by Omnicare, not the very best of health corporations. The persons in this facility are taking many medications and falls are frequent – every day one sees the ambulance arrive to carry out an injured person. Too many doctors over-prescribe medications to elderly persons, not taking into account their weakened state or reduced body weight, or the mix of medications, often administered all at the same time.
    I would also like People’s Pharmacy to take up this subject in more depth and suggest ways to change this dangerous practice. And I too, think that People’s Pharmacy is one of the best patient advocacy sites that I know of. I share your information with readers on my Website and also friends. Thank you!

  20. Meris
    Reply

    The account of Joe’s mother touched a chord. When my mother was 93, she was admitted to the county hospital in the town where she lives after having fallen. Once admitted, it seemed that the doctors wished to conduct a number of tests – including an angiogram, and then probably put in a pacemaker. I had to fight with them not to do the angiogram, not wanting any invasive tests done on someone her age. She had full hospital coverage, and I could not help thinking that the hospital would earn more money from these procedures. On discharge, the doctors over-prescribed cardio-vascular medications that slowed her heartbeat to dangerous levels, almost requiring readmission to the very same hospital.

  21. Me
    Reply

    It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, but William A. Nolen’s, M.D. “The Making of a Surgeon” is an eye opener. First published in 1970, it covers his experiences as an intern and resident at Bellvue Hospital in NYC, I believe in the 50s. Sounds to me like much hasn’t changed, and I’ve had some “parent in teaching hospital” experiences that lead me to believe this, as well. In my opinion, a must-read for all.

  22. PSZ
    Reply

    My 89-year old father had a pacemaker put in and was sent out of ICU to a regular room the next morning, even though he was still very weak. They brought him breakfast and left him alone to eat and take care of himself. Shortly thereafter that morning, he choked on a piece of bacon and had a massive stroke or heart attack… he was comatose when he was checked on about an hour later, but the pacemaker made his heart keep beating for almost a week before he finally died. They shouldn’t have left him alone and sent him to a regular room so soon after the surgery, considering how weak he was.

  23. M
    Reply

    One way to start would be to publish the names of these hospitals.

  24. PRK
    Reply

    I believe that teaching hospitals are a big part of this problem!
    Too many experienced doctors allow residents too much power too many times.
    I do not like to go to a teaching hospital at all!!
    I quit going to Ochner Hospital Clinic (main campus) in New Orleans because I never seem to get a straight answer from the doctor.
    And I am scared to death of having any kind of routine tests inside a hospital.
    I only subject myself to what I call trauma care through the ER. But I make sure my cousin is with me at all times.
    I am female, 76 yrs old & I have AFIB; but I am very careful that I don’t take some of the drugs that the cardiologist insist are safe, but they make me feel like I am dying. I’m in the process of weaning off the beta blockers=a horrible drug!
    I also see an M.D. doctor that specializes in complimentary/alternative medicine & he keeps me up to date of what is a bad drug or a bad test.
    I suggest that you do your homework before you let any doctor do any kind of routine tests on you!

  25. Denise T
    Reply

    Once again I am brought to tears upon reading another account of callous indifference and dishonesty of doctors. No, I am not indicting ALL doctors, but since the guilty ones are not required to wear black hats, we can’t know until it’s too late whether our doctor(s) are good guys or bad guys. The particular shame of Dr. V.E.C.’s heart-breaking story is that the manslaughter occurred in a teaching hospital.

  26. anonymous
    Reply

    I recently started working part-time in a long term care facility. Every time I work, many of the People’s Pharmacy columns and radio shows come to mind. I am appalled at the number of medications these elderly patients receive. They are already debilitated and confused why should they continually be receiving statins and sometimes 2 or more Alzheimer’s medications such as Namenda, Aricept, Exelon patches at the same time. One nurse who agreed with me said “it’s all about the money”. I am still trying to figure out what she meant. Do nursing homes receive more funding for more prescriptions?
    There seems to be a massive “white coat conspiracy” in addition to BigPharma/Medicare/Medicaid conspiracy. All patient’s meds come in a blister pack card and each patient has an average of 10 of these cards in addition to the prn narcotics. When will there be an investigation of these facilities and the appalling waste of funds at the expense of these seniors. I realize that some of these meds are necessary but so many of them interact with each other and make an already weakened patient (with lower liver and kidney function) weaker and more confused.
    I know the People’s Pharmacy is one of the best patient advocates and I hope that someday you can address the issue and maybe IF one long term care facility listens maybe a few of our dear seniors can be spared.

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