Sunday, July 31, 2016

Medical Error Death

When Your Child Dies Due To a Medical Error (workshop)

Improving patient safety is now the goal of Tanya Lord after her 4-year-old child, Noah, died due to a medical error during a routine tonsillectomy in 1999.

Parents may be tormented by unanswered questions and a new distrust of the medical profession. The guilt and grief fills these parents and makes them ask, “What could we have done differently?” They have a desire and passion to help change the system that has hurt them. “How can we cope with the reality of losing someone to a medical error?” she asks.

Statistics show that 98,000-144,000 people die from medical errors each year. It is the third leading cause of death right after heart disease and cancer. Most of these deaths are communication errors, according to Tanya.

The unanswered questions include: What happened? Who is to blame? What did I do wrong? Why did this happen? What were they thinking? And did they know what they were doing?

To find answers you need to access medical records, meet with medical staff and contact patient advocates. Sometimes there are no answers and no one to blame. “The whole system may be broken,"  said Tanya.

“Since my son died, I am always uncomfortable; I avoid going to doctors and hospitals,” she said. “I no longer think that they know more than I do. I worry and question a lot more.”

“Then there is the guilt,” she added. “What could I have done differently; I let my son down; I should have protected him better; I should have known better.”

Even if you do everything “right” it may happen again. There is a need to trust. And what do you do when you know they are wrong? You can try to sue them, but you may not get very far.“For your own peace of mind, try to forgive,” said Tanya.

What’s not known is that they’re trying to fix things. Many hospitals have started a patient/family advisory council. Tanya is on that council. She has the opportunity to change things now after going back to school and getting her doctorate.

“A lot of good is happening; volunteers are forcing changes in the system.” Although it may not be your hospital, your voice could help others,” she added.

Tanya was a special education teacher when Noah died as a result of medical error. Determined to better understand and work towards improving health care, she went back to school and got her master’s degree in public health and a Phd in clinical and population health research. She is currently the director of Patient Family Engagement for the state of New Hampshire and consults with local and national healthcare systems to improve communication, patient safety and patient engagement.

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