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Don't leave your loved ones alone in the hospital!

I am thankful for Western medicine for acute issues.  It is life saving and life prolonging many times. Thankful for everyone who works in a hospital all the way down to the person who cleans the room as this can be just as important as the medicine they get.  However, I am not thankful for a system that tries to squeeze blood from a rock.  To save the almighty dollar, it seems every hospital is short staffed for the true needs of good patient care.  Saving this almighty dollar sets us all up for failure and risk and contributes to the statistic in the JAMA article about western medicine being the third largest killer of patients behind heart disease and cancer.

Due to shortages, a lot of mistakes are made.  I hear so many cringe worthy stories from my patients of the wrong medicines being given or the wrong doses given.  I have seen a few die due to medical errors.  None of us are perfect and it is terrifying to have a medical error or over look an allergy but it happens more when there is precious little time to spend doing things well.  

One person I know had her husband die to pure overmedication of medicines that were not even his!  He was given double doses of pain patches and triple doses of insulin that he didn't even need.  Turns out his nurse had mild dementia that the staff apparently had not noticed but there was a shortage and she came out of retirement to help since they needed nurses so badly.  They noticed something was weird but felt uncomfortable questioning the nurse since she was so certain he was getting what he needed.  It turned out to be fatal!  The wife was hospitalized just a few months later and she questioned everything and found them trying to give her the wrong medicine twice!!  

I hear these stories way too often and fortunately most do not end up fatal but we have to empower patients to ask questions.  Ask every time a family member is given a medicine.  It is ok to question what it is and what it is for.  If you feel like it isn't right, have them check with the doctor.  If you are still concerned, ask to speak to the doctor.  The life of your loved one may depend on it.  Medicines are powerful and as life saving as they may be, they can also kill.  Even highly qualified people can make mistakes. Ask questions and don't leave your loved one alone if they are not capable of asking the questions themselves.  


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