Lee Kirksey, MD  
Cleveland , OH

Specialties: Peripheral Arterial Disease, PAD

Interests: vascular, specialist, treatment options
All Journal Entries Journals

Helpful Ways to Avoid Medical Errors

Feb 20, 2009 - 20 comments

medical errors


Heart Attack




medication errors


dept of health






university of pennsylvania

I sit on an advisory board for our state that focuses on medical errors. Medical errors can occur in many forms including  prescribing medications in people with allergies, wrong dosages, wrong site surgery and many others. Most of the problems occur do to systems errors more so than do to the incompetence of a single individuals.

I recently had surgery on my ankle and I was quite concerned with this issue. I thought it might be helpful to post some ways that a patient or family member of a patient might be able to minimize the chance of a medical error occuring

What Can You Do? Be Involved in Your Health Care

1.   The single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team.
That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. Some specific tips, based on the latest scientific evidence about what works best, follow.

2.   Make sure that all of your doctors know about everything you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
At least once a year, bring all of your medicines and supplements with you to your doctor. "Brown bagging" your medicines can help you and your doctor talk about them and find out if there are any problems. It can also help your doctor keep your records up to date, which can help you get better quality care.

3.   Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
This can help you avoid getting a medicine that can harm you.

4.   When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it.
If you can't read your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.

5.   Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand—both when your medicines are prescribed and when you receive them.
What is the medicine for?
How am I supposed to take it, and for how long?
What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

6.   When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?
A study by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences found that 88 percent of medicine errors involved the wrong drug or the wrong dose.

7.   If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask.
Medicine labels can be hard to understand. For example, ask if "four doses daily" means taking a dose every 6 hours around the clock or just during regular waking hours.

8.   Ask your pharmacist for the best device to measure your liquid medicine. Also, ask questions if you're not sure how to use it.
Research shows that many people do not understand the right way to measure liquid medicines. For example, many use household teaspoons, which often do not hold a true teaspoon of liquid. Special devices, like marked syringes, help people to measure the right dose. Being told how to use the devices helps even more.

9.   Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause.
If you know what might happen, you will be better prepared if it does—or, if something unexpected happens instead. That way, you can report the problem right away and get help before it gets worse. A study found that written information about medicines can help patients recognize problem side effects and then give that information to their doctor or pharmacist.

Hospital Stays
10.   If you have a choice, choose a hospital at which many patients have the procedure or surgery you need.
Research shows that patients tend to have better results when they are treated in hospitals that have a great deal of experience with their condition.

11.   If you are in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who have direct contact with you whether they have washed their hands.
Handwashing is an important way to prevent the spread of infections in hospitals. Yet, it is not done regularly or thoroughly enough. A recent study found that when patients checked whether health care workers washed their hands, the workers washed their hands more often and used more soap.

12.   When you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you will use at home.
This includes learning about your medicines and finding out when you can get back to your regular activities. Research shows that at discharge time, doctors think their patients understand more than they really do about what they should or should not do when they return home.

13.   If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done.
Doing surgery at the wrong site (for example, operating on the left knee instead of the right) is rare. But even once is too often. The good news is that wrong-site surgery is 100 percent preventable. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges its members to sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery.

Other Steps You Can Take
14.   Speak up if you have questions or concerns.
You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.

15.   Make sure that someone, such as your personal doctor, is in charge of your care.
This is especially important if you have many health problems or are in a hospital.

16.   Make sure that all health professionals involved in your care have important health information about you.
Do not assume that everyone knows everything they need to.

17.   Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and to be your advocate (someone who can help get things done and speak up for you if you can't).
Even if you think you don't need help now, you might need it later.

18.   Know that "more" is not always better.
It is a good idea to find out why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help you. You could be better off without it.

19.   If you have a test, don't assume that no news is good news.
Ask about the results.

20.   Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your doctor and nurse and by using other reliable sources.

Post a Comment
Avatar universal
by Corazone, Feb 21, 2009
I have to take about 8 meds on a daily basis--and then there are those for a specific disorder or disease that has popped up (eg, URI) and my prns (lorazapan). When I am prescribed something I hav e not heard of, I try to ask the MD, bit this often leads to an unilluminatingl resentful, and/or resentful response, So I always check my PDR; if the med is very new, I go on Internet and call my very well-informed pharmosist. Tho I aspirin and NSAIDs and a few others can trigger an asthma attack and/or vomiting, I want to acertain that the med contains none of these. Yet in spite of the fact there is always a red "banner" across all of my multitudinous med charts, I have indeed been been offered substances containing these.
I am also concerned with serious drug inrteractions. True story with some points to consider : Since I have been hpothyroid for almost 25 years, I take synthroid once a day. I began taking iron in Dec o3--when I began significant bleeding from ny GI which mandated transfusion. In spite of the volumes of lab work that had been done, my TSH was almost never taken--or never reported to me (so since then, I get copies of every thing (1000 pages of records in one hospital alone)). Anyway, in Oct of 05, while awaiting the results of my latest CBC, it suddenly occured to me that iron inhibits the absorption of synthroid..I called my then (arrogant) internist.  His response: "Have you told your psychiatrist this?" DEATH to the patient who admits going to a psychiatrist--my c linical depression has been translated into schizophrenia on any number of reports ; MDs treat psychiatric patients recluctantly and inadequately--not to mention their skepticism/rejection/ridicule re: any statement I make or info I provide..

MY response to query, "No, why should I?'  "You seem to have an teresting perception of reality. " Hang-up.
One hour later Dr. S's nurse called and rold me to d/c iron for a month.Obvioulsy, he consulted his Hansel and Gretel medical manual. Hang-up and thoughr about the last internist who told me to d/c iron: one month later in hospital for 5 units; my hemo was 6.4. Then I thought with glee about calling my endocrinologist brother who is always biopsying diseased thyroids and who is well-aware of the meds I take. So I called."Tom. did you know that iron and synthroid should not be taken simultaneously?" PAUSE on his part: Worse thing you can do is tell MD something he does not know or has failed to address. "Uh yes, they.." My bro went on to talk about absorption problem as I stated above. "

Then I told him about DR. S's instruction. He answered, "Well I don' think that is a very good idea." One doctor will never refer to another of his brotherhood as being incompetent or a jerk: even when a stupid error leads to patient death. So my bro went on to tell me to take one med in AM and one in PM.
So the point is if you are taking a med you know nothing about, check with more than one reliable source (in the case above I used with what's left of my autoimmune head--b/c I have been reading med books since age 12 and because I had consulted PDR about both meds at one or another point).
Corazon /GA

195469 tn?1388326488
by Heather3418, Feb 22, 2009
Whenever you pick up you regular prescriptions medications, it doesn't hurt to hurt to look at the tablets or capsules.  If there is a color difference or a shape difference, ask your pharmacist immediately.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, always take all the pills as directed.  Just because you are feeling better, doesn't mean the infection is gone and you should stop taking your medication.  If you are not better by the time you finish the antibiotics, contact your doctor.  This is important.

611606 tn?1315521367
by ShadowsSister, Feb 22, 2009
Dr. Kirksey, Thank you so much for taking the time to write and post this article. You have given some much needed advice and suggestions as to which question we need to ask our doctors and druggist.
I have printed this out,and intend to use it myself and also plan on sharing it with my oldest daughter who is having several test done and as of this date she has not been given a DX, all her test are negative so far.
I will be puting a copy in my purse so I always have it with me.
Even after 23 years of seeing many Doctors because of having MS, I can forget important questions until I am out of the office and back home.
( ShadowsSister)

393685 tn?1425816122
by stella5349, Feb 22, 2009
Corazon brings up some valid points. I too find that since I got to know more about my condition as a Graves patient and now hypothyroid - that the previous doctors I had were more abrupt with me and made me walk away with a sense of them thinking I had a couple of loose screws in my head too when I became very involved with my care!  At the beginning of my illness, I went along with anything the endo/PCP told me when Graves. I didn't look into anything and considering his words "gold".

After permanent ablation of my gland I starting a fast downward spiral of wellness and was very sick. I repeatedly went back to his office to seek help. He did, however - send me to other numerous doctors to check out the things I complained about. For example GI distress- went to a GI doctor - etc. Everyone had an opinion of what was wrong but I never got relief from anyone and my system kept shutting down. Finally after losing my job from illness and not covered under adequent insurance - I went to the endo's office in tears to ask for help. This was 2 years after RAI. He FINALLY brought in my chart at this appt - and reviewed it with me. He then turned the tables on ME and asked - why I DEMANDED RAI when my numbers were improving with meds? I trusted HIM with my thyroid/body/LIFE and HE killed it knowing I was getting better on meds.  That sent me into a tail spin and with the little energy I had -  I barked at him back saying WHAT ?? ME?? I knew THEN something was wrong. A few other choice comments were made by me and my husband to HIM. I walked out of that office with a script in my hand to have a brain scan to see if I was having an anyrusym per him. He wrote the script to have it done in 3 weeks!!

We'll knowing he was a jerk now and scared I was dying of a brain anyrusym - my husband immediately took me to the hosiptol to have the scan done and it was negative. BACK to square ONE with NO THYROID now!

JERK!! -

Now fast forwarding to the present, I had to pick myself up from the most horrible hypothyroid situation. I swear I was going to die and my labs proved I was falling into a coma. It took 4 years but I had to research EVERYTHING ( as sick as I was on my own) - from the very beginning on m y condition and look into what was killing me and fix it. I switched meds ( found a doctor to help me do that) added supplements and diet changes - and now I am back running about 99% with my health. All because of arragoncy and quick to judge protacols.

The problem is when I go to the doctor now - we discuss things about me and sometimes (not all the time) we disagree about certain things. I do not come off like I overstep his practice - BUT I do know MY body and know when I feel better and when I slip back on feeling well I want to be respected too.

Even with the close relationship I know have with him I still feel - he feels - challenged at times and takes it abruptly. Maybe he's in a bad mood - or a bad day - I don't know, but surely he can come across rude. I think my lack of trust also has been destroyed since the quack endo situation - so I no longer have a sense of trust with anyone anymore either. I want to be around a few more years and want to feel well doing that too.

In my experience - becoming an advocant for my health in some ways has given me a label of negativity with physicians. It scares me to wonder - IF I could not be in 100% control in a situation - then these doctors WILL NOT know how to care for me - OR will make the decision to alter things that could potentially hurt me and my wellness because of their ego's and their protacol levels of care. I know what it was like to almost die from this disease and how horrible I felt before getting better. It would be a slow painful situation - IF I went through that again and I seriously don't think I would come out of it again if it were to happen.

I could never imagine ME going up to a nurse or caregiver and asking "Did you wash your hands?" They would walk away thinking I was a pain in their a** and would immediately label me as a jerk or something. AND I HOPE - they KNOW that IT IS required to wash up before touching a person in their job

Get your group together and start observing them as employees and if you catch them NOT following the rules - fire them IMMEDIATELY.  That will send a message to the hospitol personal and that would not be put on the patient to think about in THEIR dire need of getting proper care in your hospitols. Same applies with script writing.

I think it is more of a ego stigma for doctors to have their unique handwriting - or lack of - interpretation. They feed on that. They are not that busy to PRINT the script - or run a computer generated script AT ALL. They act like it at times - but that is THEIR job - to be precise in what THEY are doing, not the patients.

AND - to go back (as the patient) and clarify to the doctor to "READ" the script - or write it better, would definately put a damper on his attitude to us. Yet their secret "notes" they write after the patient leaves, would definately reflect in their records the Pain in the a** status too.  If you start ( as the patient) developing the "questionable" or "obsessed" personality with the doctor - that follows you and YOUR health care will be viewed differently from that negitive impact you are leaving with these physician and staff.

Heck you can't buy a house without clear documentation - WHY is this acceptable in our heathcare??

The words here are PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY - that is it.

We as average workers in other jobs are scutinized over and over in our positions by our colleagues and administration and are called on the carpet for "numerous things" that are less important than proper health care daily when we are at work. We get written up and fired immediately for example - not answering a phone quickly enough. Where are the repercussions on our health care for poor attitudes at the time of service? I haven't seen it and millions talk about it daily here - just on these forums!

Isn't it common sense to write clearly? - Or wash your hands?  Why is the "patient" expected to deliver this as an administration function to their caregiver and be left with an attitude from them?  The patient is the one who needs help and the medical professional is their to give it - 100%. If they can't - well frankly .... GET out then.

Respectfully - you form these groups as a positive role for better care and thank you for doing that. We as patients NEED YOU. NOW deliver the message to the staff members that disobey your standards. Throw them off the job - like many others are having this happening to them daily in this world -  and see if HEALTH CARE is not impoved dramatcally.

I bet you'd have "hand washers" and clear script writing then. AND in the twist of things - you wouldn't find soooo many suffers having to jumping to the point  of feeling like they need to get a medical degree themselves to recieve better care!

649848 tn?1484935765
by Barb135, Feb 22, 2009
The advice given in this blog is excellent; however, the problem I had with becoming my own advocate was that my PCP absolutely REFUSED to look at any records I brought him regarding symptoms, etc; he got angry that I had done research and ultimately became quite rude and hard to get along with whenever I asked questions or seemed unwilling to go along with what he said. I'm hypothyroid w/ Hashi's and it seems like he has a "one size fits all" approach.  The last time I saw him, he pretty much indicated that he thought I was nothing more than a hypochondriac taking his precious time from patients that were REALLY sick.  He ended up walking out of the exam room on me and I was left sitting there sick and in tears, not knowing where to turn next.  

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have gotten a referral to another doctor for seemingly unrelated issues, who was willing to do more research and referred me to other specialists for more testing. .My PCP pretty much ridiculed the idea of more tests being run and actually made remarks like "I could have TOLD you there is nothing wrong with you - they won't find anything" even before the tests were run.   An echocardiogram turned up a leaky heart valve.  Other testing led to the Hashimoto's, multiple nodules on my thyroid, etc.  A colonoscopy turned up diverticulitis and a polyp on my colon, endoscopy turned up bile gastritis and some esophageal damage. Yeah, right - he KNEW??  Again, fortunately, all of these things were found before they got bad enough to cause serious problems.

It's very difficult, if not impossible to get around this type of attitude.  Yes, he IS the doctor, but I have a right to participate in my treatment and should not be expected to just follow him blindly.  I am in my body 24/7 and know a lot more about it than he will ever know in a series of 10 minute (if that long) visits.  I think this is one of the main problems we run into.  It's almost like we are made to feel that we don't have a RIGHT to ask questions; that it's none of our business - either we are made to feel stupid or the doctor is offended that we question his authority.  At least that's what happened to me and all I want is to be looked at as ME, not like every other patient who comes in with a similar condition.  

I, too, am going to print this blog and take it with me to my next appt.  

Avatar universal
by thedeloachs, Feb 22, 2009
Are you kidding me? Ask the doctor to write his scrip more clearly!! HA in what world can you do that and not be treated like ****? I just FIRED my Primary Care when I simply asked him for a GI referral because of some symptoms I was having. He looked at me in total disgust and Said " You don't need a GI, you need to go on a diet". Yeah I'm a 5'8 female 25 years old and weighed 144 pounds. HMMM... he then proceeded to tell me that I should be eating no more than 800 calories per day. I never went back to him and found a GI who did an endoscopy who found Esophaugitis. I'm now on a med to control the GERD. I went to a new PCP and told him of the fatigue and extreme dryness I had been experiencing for years. He immediately ran tests on my Thyroid (previous doc of 5 years NEVER checked my thyroid) and guess what!!! I have Hashimotos! I had been treated like a hypochondriac piece of garbage for 5 whole years!!! All of these symtoms I had been having were explainable!!!! Stupid JERK!  I have VERY LITTLE faith in the medical community at this point. I question everything. I have about 3 doctors I trust immensely. That's it. And I have been to well over 15 docs and specialist including MAyo clinic in the last 3 years....

479581 tn?1317761088
by dai3symae, Feb 22, 2009
After a doctor treated me for migraine with topamax....at 2x the recommended dose......for several years.......in spite of my repeated complaints about side effects.......and didn't return my calls when I almost died from it...........

.......I now consider my doctors service providers......just like my trashman............and I don't work with any that I don't trust or give me bad service.   And I don't apologize for it anymore.  

I live in a small town and when I open the phone book there are pages and pages of doctors.......I shouldn't have to tell them to wash or to write clearly....my sp.ed. students know enough to wash their hands......and as for the rest of the list....at $100 for 15 minutes, I expect my doctor to provide that service......I expect my surgeon to mark my left foot tomorrow and confirm with me that it's the foot in need of surgery.......if they make me feel like I'm wasting my money or I'm stupid or a hypochondriac; I don't go back.

Luckily, I've found good doctors who have the self confidence that allows them to listen to me and me to them.  We can have a discussion and respectfully disagree and then decide on a course of treatment.

Avatar universal
by VaBreeze, Feb 22, 2009
This information is very sound and would be great practice for anyone being their own advocate.  Now, it we can just get our physicians to comply with our requests that would be just lovely.  Some do take the time, but others are just too busy or overbooked for casual discussions.  However, we do have these rights and responsibilities to ourselves.

One thing I might add about Hospitalizations:  Should you be inpatient due to major surgery, you may want to have a friend or family member to say over during the first night (or more if needed).  I discovered during my last surgery that, the quality of care is minimal when attendants feel a patient should be sleeping instead of crying in pain for 12 hours.  Being sedated (and overdosed) I was sick, hurting, in agony and knew only that I was in great pain and did not have the ability to pick up the phone to call someone to help, nor could I reach the call button.  Next time i'll insure someone is with me to look into my welfare and good care.  

Avatar universal
by VaBreeze, Feb 22, 2009
corrrection:  *stay* overnight

389974 tn?1331018842
by swampcritter, Feb 22, 2009
The note about hospital care is very true. Swampy's experience with his relatives is that the hospital only provides a fraction of the required care.

As an example, when Swampy's mom was in once, they did some tests with her at night that involved putting a tube down her throat. There was nothing inappropriate about the test, and it was performed competently. However, they did no cleanup at all. So when Swampy's dad got in to see her in the morning at 8:30am, he found her with goo all over her mouth, throat, and face.

Swampy's mom at the time was paralysed and hallucinating, so she could not move or do any of the work to help herself.

Of course, this doesn't qualify as a medical error, more like a standard of care error.

306455 tn?1288865671
by flmagi, Feb 22, 2009
The doctors info is absolutly true and no one should ever be to intimidated to ask health care workers to wash their hands....even the doctor. If they refuse or give you a hard time, report them. Because of this kind of lack of hygiene by hospital workers, my mother lost her colon due to contracting C-Diff. It was to bad my family and myself educated ourselves after it was to late to change the course of things.  My mom was in the hospital for 3 months with to many problems to describe, but the staff quickly learned that visiting hours did not apply to us and that they better be on their toes. They called my sisters and I, "the amazonian guards". lol   People must get involved in their health care.

Avatar universal
by PlateletGal, Feb 22, 2009

GREAT tips !  One additional thing that I do is frequently request my medical records. One of the reasons why is that we recently had a MedHelp member who found out that she had sleep apnea. Her physician didn't tell her this and she found out only because she requested copies of her medical records. Another reason why this is so important is because if your physician had diagnosed you with something without your knowledge... it could lead to problems with getting insurance down the road.

Avatar universal
by Queenmom415, Mar 25, 2009
I wish that all doctors were as open and up front as the writer here.  I have had some horrifying experiences with doctors.  Let's begin by saying that my father was a cardiac surgeon so I have been around doctors all my life.  Fortunately I am a pretty healthy woman.  My Dad passed in 2000 and the nursing staff in his office (for some reason unbeknownst to me) decided that I should no longer be treated there.  I need to have a regular MD as I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and need to be on Synthroid for the rest of my life.  I go to this doctor near my home, he takes blood, etc and tells me to call back Monday (this was on Friday at 5 pm)  The following morning at 10am, I return home from the gym and get an urgent call to come in as I have SEVERE DIABETES and HIGH CHOLESTEROL. I became hysterical, quickly showered and drove like mad to see the doctor.  HE NEVER EVEN OFFERED ME TO SIT DOWN AND BLURTED OUT HOW I WAS SO SICK I BELONGED IN A HOSPITAL!!!  I tried to ask him how this could happen seeing as there is no diabetes in my family nor does anyone have a problem with cholesterol, good or bad.  He said:  "it just did", wrote me some Rx's and sent me on my way.  I asked him about my thyroid and he said:  "It's fine".
Thank goodness I never took any of the medication he prescribed.  Truth be told I DO NOT have diabetes nor high cholesterol--those blood tests were not even MINE!!!!!  WE ALL NEED TO ADVOCATE FOR OURSELVES.  We cannot trust a lot of "professionals". Now, each time I need to be seen my a doctor I become PANIC STRICKEN.  I have developed "white coat hypertension" even tho my "normal" bp is 120/70.  Please, please, medical personnel---be gentle with patients--we are human too

Avatar universal
by hikerpat, Mar 25, 2009
It is unfortunate I must agree with all of you.
I had been diagnosed with a Morton's neuroma (MN), about 5 years ago. The diagnosis had been confirmed by 3 other providers. When I thought the MN was flaring up last June, the clinic I was going to denied me a referral, stating that I was looking for a 2nd opinion and that, they don't do 2nd opinions.
I did lots of on-line research and found that cryosurgery was, for me, the best treatment for the MN.
I found a DPM in Spartanburg, SC, who did the cryosurgery and drove through a snow storm, from TN, for the procedure.
An x-ray was taken, which showed a growth pressing on the same nerve as one would typically find a MN.
He followed-up with ultrasound (u/s), that confirmed the presence of the growth and confirmed the absence of MN (on occasion, they do resolve by themselves). So far, so good.
He went on to perform the cryosurgery. I figured he knew that the cryo would destroy the growth. No!!! He did the wrong procedure. As a matter of fact, there is no mention, in any of the articles on-line, of cryo being used to remove a growth.
I had to ask for a receipt - I was given one for the amount paid, not what I was paying for.
Since then, he has refused me: the x-ray, to which I have a legal right (I paid for it; hence, it is mine); copy of medical record; and an itemized receipt.
He has until tomorrow to get the items to me, or SC will suspend his license. And, if the SC department finds he violated the standard of care by performing the wrong procedure, his license will be revoked.
What a great forum!!!

Avatar universal
by Deb_Picard, Mar 25, 2009
"In my experience - becoming an advocant for my health in some ways has given me a label of negativity with physicians. It scares me to wonder - IF I could not be in 100% control in a situation - then these doctors WILL NOT know how to care for me - OR will make the decision to alter things that could potentially hurt me and my wellness because of their ego's and their protacol levels of care."

Dear Dr Kirksey

Many thanks for your intelligent and considered checklist. I was going to respond that, as a UK NHS patient, I wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of even getting past the FIRST of your suggestions - but then I read comments from people who are in the US, where it seems that 'doctor ego' affects patients just as badly.

Oh, how I have done my best to 'be involved in my healthcare'. You couldn't ask for a more co-operative and courteously willing patient than me. But, no, across the board, doctors here seem to immediately assume that you must be a raving hypochrondriac if you display any (any) interest in finding out more about your condition.

Then there are the few who go way over the other way. I've just got a blood condition dx. My new GP tells me to 'look it up on the net and then come back and teach me all about it'. Sorry, but net self-dxing is dangerous. I want professional opinion from my medical advisors, not arrogant stereotyping or ignorance.

I pasted the above commenter's quote because I have been in that situation where I was not in control of a medical emergency. The doctors misdxed and certainly didn't know how to care for me. Their ego-driven inability to admit error and treat appropriately has virtually destroyed my life. I have no trust whatsoever in HCPs now.  But we are talking about the socialised NHS which spends more on spin-doctoring and keeping its mistakes out of the media than it does on e.g. researching effective medications and procedures (yes, that is a fact).

I don't know what the answer is. Though it seems to me that HCP attitude is at cause of many medical foul-ups.

So, please don't think I'm being smart here, Dr Kirksey, but seriously how, as a patient who wants to be co-operative and responsibly involved in maintaining one's health, can one deal with that 'doctor ego' disease?


Avatar universal
by jimmy157, Mar 25, 2009
can you tell me where do you go to get information on when you take a drug as i did for about 5 years for high blood pressure. than you have an attack and are told the medacine that you are on hydrochlorizide is not doing any good and probably hurting your system and you should of been off it years ago as it was not controlling your blood pressure.it was also draing my system of potassium. so the doctor changed me to atenolol. any opinion as this was done by a primary care provider in a va hospital.jim

740917 tn?1268251136
by diane_306, Mar 25, 2009
Dear Dr. Kirksey,     I had a gallbladder due to a dysfunctional gallbladder,is what they called it.For some reason I have 13-24 surgical clips in me from that surgery it was (lap. done).I have been really ill since as time goes on it keeps getting worse.I have had to have 6-7 ERCP's from my bile duct scarring down.I am to the point of being so weak now it's just awful,and I am alaways in pain.I feel like there is so much pressure,and I feel swollen now the last few weeks.It hurts all the way up under my shoulder,and now it's even making my neck hurt.My ALT&AST go way up and then go back to normal,so does my sed rate.I am only 48,and I feel like I am 90,in fact my mother is 80,and can do more than I can.I am nauseated most of the time in and out of ER also.They just run a few bags of IV fluids,and send me back home.My last ER visit the DR. told me that is probably is all they can do for me until I die.I just wish I could live my normal life again.I have 5 grown children,that are just really having a hard time dealing with this.It has made them terrified of DR.'s.Do you know why I would have that many clips in there from that surgery? They did not follow my surgery with whatever that is called to watch the bile flow either,so we can't look at that,to see anything.And the surgeon is not here anymore to ask him?                               Thanks Diane Fry

Avatar universal
by Lengo, Mar 26, 2009
14.   Speak up if you have questions or concerns.

And get told "I have no time for that. I'll refer you to someone who can answer your questions". Then the referall never comes.

15.   Make sure that someone, such as your personal doctor, is in charge of your care.

I have three doctors. None of them communicate with each other. Thye don't do their homework. They are not prepared when I see them, nor do they follow through. No one is in charge -- not even the patient. The doctors don't have time for that, nor any time for you.

1.   The single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team.
That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.

Ha! People that do this get labeled trouble makers. Doctors have five to ten minutes for you. If you have chronic pain, they have you sign a contract which takes away all of your rights to participate in your treatment plan. If you want explanations, forget it.

17.   Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and to be your advocate (someone who can help get things done and speak up for you if you can't).

Better yet, take an attorney with you to document the doctors' passive-aggressive behavior, lack of dialogue, and hurried approach to dealing with your illness. If you have nobody to accompany you in your visit, you're cooked.

Lets talk about billing errors. The doctor is seldom concerned about you. He is concerned about making money. This is a business after all, and time is money. Errors not only include medical mistakes (many of which are caused by being in too big a hurry). Billing to insurance companies often include things that were not performed. I ask my insurance company to provide me a list of what the doctor charged for, but I don't get one. Still, on the statement, there is always a note that says "If you suspect fraud, let us know". How can you do this when the doctor's office doesn't supply you wiht an itemized bill and your insurance company doesn't provide you one either.

Lets face it. The system is broken. From the doctor's point of view, he is doing all that he can in trying to help you. He's too busy and too stressed from booking too many patients in a single day. From the patient's point of view, an appointment lasts less than 15 minutes and questions go unanswered. There are too few doctors. They have little time, and never treat you. They only treat the illness or it's symptoms. If you have any complaints, you are going to be labeled a trouble maker. If you're a trouble maker, they won't see you at all. Not seeing you at all is perhaps the best recourse you have. Doctors are a source of stress. They expect too much from you, and provide too little. And if you say you want more time for more answers, then you are the bad guy and are labeld 'too demanding' or 'trouble maker'.

Thank you for your input on what I can do. Now, tell the doctors what THEY can do! The information you have provided is all over the Net, but what a doctor and his staff can do is not found anywhere!

Avatar universal
by Barb64, Mar 27, 2009
Wow!  I knew there had to be more people out there besides me who were having such problems.  I was on the table before having a heart cath done and announced to all - no versed, no fentanyl.  The anesthesiologist said I would get morphine.
A day later at home when I got the paper work I found they had given me fentanyl and benadryl.  I was furious. I was having this procedure done because I'd had surgery on my foot with MAC anesthesia and came out of it screaming because of chest pain. I was given nitro and morphine and packed off to an emergency room by ambulance and hospitalized for two days.  I had the cath because my troponin level was .54.  This was the second time in twelve days I had MAC and heart problems.  I was hospitalized that time as well.  My PCP took profolol out of the mix for the foot surgery but that didn't help.  Where was this doctor's head?  I do have a complaint against him.  I came out of the cath unable to speak to my husband on the phone as my tongue wouldn't work! I was speaking gibberish.

Doctors, for the most part, don't like their patients knowledgeable.  I agree with the one who mentioned being taken as anxious or overly concerned about one's health.

I have fired many doctors and as soon as I have a diagnosis, I will be suing a few.  They strung me along for years, gave me diagnoses - some were right, some were not - no treatment plan. no attempt to pursue one, just got me hooked on lortabs, then tried topamax. The last dx he gave me was carpal tunnel.  Wrong.  I knew it wasn't that.  It's small fiber neuropathy.

Watch out when you offend a doctor - I asked for a second opinion.  I then had to have my pcp talk to him to take me back on as a patient as I needed surgery..  The other ortho group did the first foot surgery and messed that up.  This guy was really mean - nine months after that surgery I had to have another by a podiatrist who took out the too large hardware - four screws and a plate - he put in my foot.  Every time I went to him after the surgery he would x-ray it and say it's healed and offered nothing for my pain. It's been two months and I'm on rest by order of PCP as my foot is still too swollen and painful for walking.

I do have a couple of good doctors.  They are hard to find.  I have a 100 mile round trip to see them.

I have many allergies and sensitivities to medications and doctors still try to talk me into taking meds related to those on the list.  I decided to humor, to prove to, my doctor I was right so I took arthrotec - rash and diarrhea.  Never again. I was given oxcodone for my foot surgery - hooked again.  It was on my list!

I prefer my osteopath and his treatment and my massage therapist.  It may be painful at first but it does bring relief for a period of time.


Avatar universal
by kate1957, Nov 06, 2009
Dear DR. Kirksey., I was treated by a neurosurgen for a brain aneurysm in march. during the proceedure i suffered two strokes in the back of my head. I've had very little follow up care because i have no pcp. I was one of the unfortunate ones that lost my job during this ression and my insurance. while in the hospital i was recieving atavan, which continued throuhout and after i was released . I had many problems when i was disharged so i ended up back in the hospital and the er on several occassions. since i had no pcp only to rely on our state county gov to apply for cicp the meds i was taking were always inconsistant. which would take me back to the er time and time again. Finally i recieved a certified letter from my neurosurgen declining me as a patient, even though i never got follow up care for my strokes. I tried to go to another hospital to get into there neurology clinic but the hospital addministrator  told me that the doctor that touched my brain was responsible for my brain and my follow up care even if i only had cicp. and that cicp was'nt limited to just one hospital. My question is was my doctor right to do what he did? thank you ***@****

Post a Comment