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Show 1074: Surviving Medical Errors and Seeking the Truth

Nurse Donna Helen Crisp describes her own saga of preventable medical errors and how she uncovered the truth about what happened in her care.
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Surviving Medical Errors and Seeking the Truth

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Medical errors and misadventures account for surprisingly high mortality in the U.S. Some experts estimate that they should be considered the third leading cause of death in this country. Many such mistakes could be prevented. How can you protect yourself or a family member from becoming a victim of medical errors?

Many major causes of death and disability have their own institute within the National Institutes of Health. There is, however, no institute for the prevention of medical errors. Very little funding is available to study this problem. How does it affect patients’ lives?

The Patient in Room 2 Tells All:

Donna Helen Crisp was a nursing professor on the morning she was admitted to a hospital for surgery.  Instead of going home the next day, she suffered multiple medical errors and spent a month in the hospital, most of it in a coma.  When the hospital refused to comment, Crisp spent eight years researching and writing her book.

Research shows that most patients who have suffered medical errors want transparency with clear explanations of what went wrong, sincere apologies for the harm they experienced and a plan so that no other patients need suffer the same problems.

Health care administrators do not always respond with transparency and compassion, though. They may need training and practice to improve their skills of disclosure. We discuss the obstacles and how they could be confronted.

This Week’s Guest:

Donna Helen Crisp, JD, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC, is a former assistant professor of nursing at the School of Nursing of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has worked as a nursing clinician, administrator, supervisor, consultant and researcher as well as teacher. Prior to earning her nursing degrees, she worked in social work, law and music.

She is the author of Anatomy of Medical Errors: The Patient in Room 2: A Nurse’s Story of Surviving Preventable Medical Errors and Discovering the Truth. There is more information at her website: http://nursing.unc.edu/people/donna-crisp/

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this show will be posted on the Monday following broadcast. It is available without charge for a month. A CD of the show can be purchased for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3

More Information:

If you are interested in this topic, you may also wish to read our book on medical errors: Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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