Every Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm knows that all families who have lost a family member because of a medical mistake and filed an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit would gladly accept no compensation so long as they could have their loved one back. Unfortunately, that is s not possible, and so the civil justice system is the next best avenue to ensure accountability for the loss and help improve the system for everyone in the future. A long way still remains, however, until the medical system is improved throughout the country such that no family is force to endure the losses that could and should have been prevented.
As the Commercial Appeal recently reported, one couple that lost a family member as a result of a preventable medication error decided to turn their pain into action. They recently published a new book entitled, “Don’t Be a Statistic: Top Screwups Doctor Make and How to Avoid Them.” In the book’s introduction they explain what happened to their own loved one (the husband’s mother) and what they would have done to prevent the accident had they been more familiar with the situation at the time.
The family’s victim was recovering from a successful angioplasty and stent placement in 1996. When the man went home for the evening his mother was in fine spirits, and she was looking forward to going home the following day. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night a physician had given the woman a narcotic painkiller. This was after the man specifically warned them that his mother could not tolerate narcotics. This warning was specifically mentioned in the woman’s chart. However, the chart was not at the bedside at the time that the resident doctor visited the woman and prescribed the drug-Demerol.
The man rushed to the hospital and found his mother tied to the bed, her muscles had spasmed and she was thrashing around wildly. She eventually calmed down enough that doctors thought she would be released later that day. However, literally a few hours later the man was told by medical professionals that the woman had fallen and had died. The family believed that the woman’s death was caused by an interaction with the drug and another medication she was taking called “serotonin syndrome.”
Since that loss, the family has committed themselves to preventing similar preventable tragedies in the future. For example, they have aided in the development of an online system that helps patients pay bills and make appointment. That same system is now used to allow patients to view personal records, like lab results and X-rays. Both doctors and patients have reported extremely positive results with the new online tracking systems. Another measure pushed by the family following the incident was the creation of “rapid response teams.” These are groups of individuals who are called to a patient’s bedside when they are perceived to be “going downhill.” The teams are now called both by physicians as well as patients and their families.
The newly published book is the family’s latest effort to spread awareness about the steps that can be taken to ensure the care received is the best possible. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know that vigilant observation and questioning about the care given to their loved ones is the best method of ensuring mistakes are not made.
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