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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, February 10, 2010

My Neighbor Died Last Week Because of A Medical Error

My 50 year old neighbor a slightly over weight African American male
with a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol went to the
doctor complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. Classic signs
and symptoms of a heart attack, right?

Well the doctor gave him a Nitroglycerin tablet, to help his heart get more
blood and oxygen.  When that didn't work after one tablet ( it would have
been acceptable for her to try up to 3 tablets) to relieve his pain she gave
him an asthma inhaler to help open up his airways.

The problem with inhalers in this case is that they make the heart work harder
and can bring on arrythmias and even a  heart attack in someone suffering with
 a heart problem.

The Dr. told him to go home rest and to go for an EKG on Tuesday
(four days later).  Just and FYI if you have chest pain and shortness
of breath you need an EKG NOW!!!

Well instead of going for an EKG on Tuesday he was buried on Tuesday.
He died later that day from a heart attack, something that could have been
prevented with proper diagnosis and treatment.

This terrible turn of events left his family without a husband, father, brother,
uncle and friend and it left  me with a question.  And that question is this...,
what would it take for people to use the techniques in What Did the Doctor Just Say?
that could have saved his life.

Had he or his loved ones questioned the doctors diagnosis of a breathing
disorder and doubled checked her on a symptom checker to ensure she was
treating the right symptoms. Had he insisted on an EKG.  Had he gotten a
second opinion from and ER doc, he might well be alive today.

Im not blaming him or his family for his end.  Im really wondering what would
inspire those who are not motivated to take an active role in their healthcare to
 do so? To not only buy the book, but to use it to use prepare to go to the doctor
and to make sure they get the best treatment after the visit.

Please post your ideas, comments and suggestions as this is a matter of life and
death and I need your input, we all do.

If you have a story of medical error you would like to tell please post it here as a
comment.  If you would like help with your treatment decision making process,
you can email your questions and your stories to, and I will respond in a timely fashion.

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