Nine years ago Josie King lost her 18-month-old daughter as a result of medical negligence. She has since turned this tragedy into something positive, as she has become a major advocate in the prevention of further medical negligence. King has used her own personal experiences to become a voice in the fight for better communication among hospitals and doctors.
King’s daughter was being treated at John Hopkins Hospital for severe burns when she received a methadone shot that resulted in her brain death. The medical negligence in King’s case was due to the fact that her daughter was not meant to get the shot – the doctor had cancelled the order for it, but a nurse gave it to King’s daughter anyway.
The King family brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and have used the settlement they received to start the Josie King Foundation in memory of their daughter. This foundation focuses on increasing patient safety programs in hospitals and doctor offices.
Miscommunication is a common part of every day life that we each deal with on a regular basis. However, when miscommunication occurs in the medical field it can be deadly, as evidenced in Josie King’s case. A patient might have an allergy to certain medicines, which might not be noted in his chart, leading to him receiving those medicines.
Or a patient with a persistent cough might go for a chest x-ray and be told his physician would contact him with any problems. However, if the films do not go directly to the ordering physician then the patient might not hear about any potential problems for an extended period, leading to a potential delay in diagnosis.
Additional problems are created when a patient’s medical records are located at different facilities. For example, a patient might present to the hospital complaining of headaches and have a head x-ray done that appears normal. However, if that patient had an MRI of his brain done recently then that exam might also be helpful in diagnosing his problem. But if the MRI scans are not available at the hospital then the doctors there will not be able to make comparisons to them in order to chart any disease progression. This lack of record availability becomes increasingly problematic for patients who are admitted with neurological changes or who might be unable to communicate for some reason.
There has been a trend in the medical field to try and shift to electronic records, the idea being that electronic records are easier to share between facilities. And while this might decrease the occurrences of some breakdowns in communication, it will not eliminate them all. Patients need to be their own advocates and share their medical histories with all their treaters. Do not assume that your doctor or nurse knows all your medical information. Remind them of any adverse drug reactions, recent tests, or recent illnesses. In this way you, too, can work towards preventing medical negligence.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Downers Grove, Orland Park, Palatine, and Evanston.
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