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I have been a registered nurse, nurse practitioner and most importantly a patient advocate for over 20 years. I have worked in hospitals, homes and as a private consultant, always teaching patients how to speak up for themselves and to make well informed healthcare decisions that are right for them and help them to avoid all types of Medical Errors. The many things I have seen in healthcare led me write "What Did the Doctor Just Say." In it are all the steps every patient needs to take to remain safe in the healthcare system and avoid medical errors. My personal goal is help to save 100,000 people from the horrors of a medical error and I wrote What Did the Doctor Just Say? to help make that happen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Up to 40% of Medical Diagnosis Are Wrong! Here's Why

In fact missed and wrong diagnosis are among the most common types of medical mistakes. An evaluation of 53 autopsy studies found up to 40 percent of the cases reviewed had a major diagnostic error and that the patients may have lived had they gotten the correct diagnosis and subsequent right treatment. The rates of diagnostic error are even higher in emergency rooms and in intensive care units, were rapid decisions must be made.
      And these are not just numbers, real people are affected by diagnostic errors. A 1997 study conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation found, 40 percent of the patients surveyed stated they or someone they knew had been involved in an incident involving a diagnostic error. Once you receive a wrong diagnosis the treatment (medications, surgery, chemotherapy, tests and procedures) associated with that wrong diagnosis are wrong as well. Additionally the right treatments will probably be delayed and those delays could really cost you, big time, especially in cases where an early diagnosis could me cure and a delayed diagnosis could mean you will not be cured.
Both patients and providers contribute to the making of a wrong diagnosis. In this post I will discuss some of those reasons and the types of diagnostic errors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do You Have a Personal Healthcare Record: Here's Why You Need One

Every healthcare provider you see creates a record of your care in a "chart." In that chart the provider documents your complaints, your test results and his or her treatment recommendations.  If you have seen more than one provider, you have more than one medical record.  All of those records contain different pieces of your medical history and none of your records or your providers has a complete picture of your care.
     When more than one provider orders treatments without anyone monitoring the "big picture," multiple problems can and do occur.  These problems include, but are not limited too: Duplication of imaging and laboratory studies; dangerous medication combinations; delays in care while waiting for records to be transferred from one office to the other, not to mention the time and money it takes to collect records.
      In addition to recording your current complaints and medical history, your medical record has clerical and administrative functions. The information contained in your medical record is translated into code numbers and given to your insurance company. The carrier then reviews your records to determine if the care you received was "customary and/or necessary."  Your carrier then goes on to make billing, payment and treatment decisions based upon what is written in your chart.
       Your medical record is also a central tool used in the investigating medical legal injury claims.  In a court of law your medial record will be used to reveal how your injuries occurred; who may be responsible for causing your injuries; and if you will be compensated for your injuries.  Clearly, your medical record is  a very important part of your healthcare safety

Benefits of Having a Personal Healthcare Record
Some of the benefits of maintaining a PHR are:
  • Constant and free access to your healthcare records
  • You will help prevent treatment delays that occur while waiting for records
  • You will be able to prevent duplication of services
  • You will be able to knowledgeably share information about your care
  • Will will be well organized, proactive, and accurate
  • You will foster feelings of respect from other members of YOUR Healthcare Team
  • You will get safe, more efficiently delivered care
Steps to Creating a PHR
  • Call of your providers, including any specialists you have seen, and request copies of your records
  • Obtain your pediatric records, they contain your immunizations and a record of any childhood diseases and treatments
  • Contact any hospitals where you were a patient and request complete copies of your records
  • Store your records in a three ring binder and organize it by dates or disorder. Each member of your family will need their own section in the notebook
Your PHR will contain many documents and could be a little overwhelming to compile.  I have found a wonderful template to help you get started, it is Having a PHR will help you to be safer in the healthcare system. In an upcoming post I will discuss how to check your records for errors, you won't want to miss that one.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Doctor Just Said: 90,000 People Per Year Die From Hospital Infections. Here's How to Prevent That From Happening To You and Your Loved Ones

One in every 20 hospitalized patients will develop an infection from something they were exposed to in the hospital: an IV, a surgical wound, a urinary catheter, a procedure, or an infected and contagious roommate are among the many causes of hospital-acquired infections. In 2002 hospital acquired infections took the lives of 90,000 Americans and cost our healthcare system more than $30 billion dollars to treat. Hospital-acquired infections may lead to weeks of hospitalization, trips to the ICU, the loss of limbs, and/or death.

At this point most of us have heard that hand-washing is the number one thing you and your healthcare professionals can do to prevent any type of infection. Other things you can do to prevent an infection include (and are not limited too:
Choosing a hospital with a low infection rate
Ensuring that you and your loved ones are given a bath and mouth care that includes an antiseptic mouthwash to kill germs in your mouth and on your bodies surfaces.
Eating foods rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins A, C and Zinc and doing others things that will
Boost your immune system and help your body fight infection naturally.
It is also important that you keep an eye on the housekeeping staff and ensure they clean all parts of your room with a disposable cloth and clean water (not the same water they used to clean your room mates things). There are many other steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from the horrors a hospital acquired infection and I write about them in WDTDJS.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Did the Doctor Just Say? Will Help Everyone to Be Safer in the Healthcare System If We Follow the Steps In It!!!

Every year in America medical errors, (the mistakes made by doctors and others) take over 100,000 lives! Hundreds of patients die needlessly, everyday because they can’t understand what the doctor saying or how to make safe healthcare decisions.

“What Did The Doctor Just Say?” will help you avoid falling victim to medical error by teaching you how to understand what the doctor says and how to ensure he understood you too. Once you and the doctor are “speaking the same language” you will be able to ask questions and gather the information you need to make high quality, safe healthcare decisions.

Through the use of structured question sets you will learn: how to hire a good doctor and fire a bad one, how to manage your illnesses and to take your medications safely, you will learn how to choose the best hospitals, and much more.

Written in plain English by an experienced educator who knows the difficulty over 40 million people have understanding the medical language, “What Did The Doctor Just say?” is an informative, easy to read guide to patient safety that could help to save your life. This book is a must for anyone interested in safe high quality healthcare they agree with and understand.

Don't forget to forward this post to everyone you love and think could benefit from having this book. I want to help as many people as I possibly can be safe in the healthcare system, please let's join together and save over 100,000 lives from from the horrors of a medical error. Thank for you very much for your support, and I wish you and yours all the best.

Merry Christmas and Be Safe Out There!!!

I hope this helps you and your loved ones, I really do.

Lynn R. Parker, RN

Nurse Practitioner, Patient Advocate, Author

What Did the Doctor Just Say?

Author Bio: Why I'm So Passionate About Saving Over 100,000 Lives And How This Site Came To Be

My name is Lynn R. Parker and I have been a registered nurse, nurse practitioner and educator for over twenty years. I have worked in the areas of obstetrics, internal medicine, oncology, pain management, natural and alternative medicine and end-of-life care. I have worked in large university medical centers, community hospitals, doctors’ offices and in clinics.

Throughout my varied and diverse career I have found all healthcare settings have one thing in common; and that one thing is medical error. You can rest assured; wherever medical care is delivered medical errors occur. I have seen the tragedy of medical error with my own eyes and it has deeply affected me both personally and professionally.

I first became aware of medical error many years ago when I was the age of 17 years old. One day after school a close friend and I went to my house to hang out. Yvonne began having a sickle cell crisis. She was suffering and in horrible pain. She desperately needed oxygen and a blood transfusion.

The trouble began – and ended - when she was given the wrong type of blood. She died later that afternoon from a violent transfusion reaction, while her family and I waited to see her in the waiting room.

Soon after I entered nursing a young mother I had been working with and befriended went for a C-Section. The day before her surgery we eagerly anticipated the birth of her third little girl. We laughed and giggled as we talked about meeting her beautiful new daughter in the morning. However, that was to be. During the surgery she received too much anesthesia and was left-brain dead. She left behind two small children, a newborn and a husband to grieve her for the rest of their lives. My heart still breaks every time I think of her.

Over the years I have witnessed the results of hundreds of medical errors. My response has to educate my patients about their diseases and the kind of care suggested by best practice standards and recommended in the national guidelines.

I taught and still do teach my patients how to ask their doctors questions and to investigate the answers they are given so that they - the patients themselves - can actively participate in making healthcare decisions that are safe and meet their unique needs.

And then one day in 2007 I found myself caring for a patient who came into the hospital for what was supposed to be a simple surgery and the expectation of being discharged in within two days. When I met him three months later he lay in a hospital bed unable walk, talk, move or breathe on his own, because he had fallen victim to multiple medical errors.

At that point I just couldn’t take what I was seeing anymore. I felt like screaming and crying all at once. I had to do something to help prevent the tragedy of medical error from happening to as many people as I could. I went home that night and began writing what is now known as, What Did The Doctor Just Say?

I hope this book helps to prevent thousands and thousands of medical errors, that would make me so happy. However, if my only accomplishment is to help you and your loved ones to be safer in the healthcare system I will consider this book a huge success. I sincerely hope; each of you is safe in the healthcare system and that you get the care you need, want and deserve to have.

Monday, December 7, 2009

You Must Ask Your Doctors the Right Questions, It's A Matter of Life and Death!!

Dr. Stephanie Moore, of "Moore on Your Health " talks about why asking your healthcare providers questions and knowing what questions to ask is the cornerstone of patient safety.  

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