Hospitals can be dangerous places. Although we certainly need their treatments at times, we also need to be aware of ways that hospital health care can go awry. One visitor shared this sad story:
Perhaps now is the time to tell a very painful story. It might help others avoid hospital errors.
My father was “never sick a day in his life” until he started feeling bad at age 58. He went to the highly regarded nearby university medical center. A cyst was found on his pancreas and removed. He returned home, and immediately felt well again.
About three days later the hospital called, saying that the biopsy on the tissue removed indicated that it may have been pancreatic cancer. To safeguard against the spread of the cancer, they recommended immediate surgery to remove the pancreas, part of the stomach, and part of the large intestine.
My mother says that when they returned to the hospital to prepare for the second surgery, an attending physician strongly urged my father to wait. Before undergoing radical surgery of doubtful benefit, he should have clear signs that cancer of the pancreas was actually present and that it was spreading. He explained that, without a pancreas, the patient would then have to take pig pancreas extract daily to digest his food.
For reasons that never have been clear to me, Dad decided to undergo the surgery. He died about 18 months later at the age of 60. The pig pancreas extract did not work for him, and we watched a 6″2′ 210-pound man waste away. He weighed about 70 pounds when he died.
Mother told us that when she was going through the medical records sent by the hospital before paying the final bill, she found a copy of the biopsy test report on the tissue from the cyst removal. 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 appears to be something other than a case of hospital error. On the other hand, in a broader context, it probably could be argued that, in fact, this was exactly a case of hospital error.
Diagnostic errors are far too common. According to one estimate, 100,000 people die each year because a doctor or doctors incorrectly assessed the problem. This can lead to inappropriate treatment (as occurred in this case).
We do not want you or a loved one to ever have to go through something like this. That is why we wrote the book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. In it we provide tips, tools and crucial questions to ask in order to prevent becoming a statistic. Whether it’s a prescription drug mistake, a serious drug interaction or a misdiagnosis, you need to be vigilant and prepared to protect yourself.