Medical Errors-Third Leading cause of Death in the US

According to a recent John Hopkins’ study; more than 250,000 people in the United States die every year from medical errors. Other reports claim that number to be significantly higher.

Leading causes of death in the US:

1. Heart disease

2. Cancer

3. Medical errors

Read that again. Hard pill to swallow. Humans make errors. Doctors are just human. Nurses-human. But this number is frightening.

I have been treated badly by some doctors over the years. Why? Because I know my body better than anyone. I’m the head of my medical team. I wasn’t always so proactive. Then I was treated reprehensibly by someone that should have listened to me. My oncologist.

I began gaining weight rapidly and I wasn’t doing anything different. I was eating the same, moving around the same. I began choking on my own spit. My throat was bothering me. My voice changed. Something was wrong with my thyroid. I told my oncologist about symptoms I was experiencing.

I had been seeing an oncologist for some time due to a high white-cell count. One bone marrow biopsy and a hysterectomy later the cause for my high count had yet to be determined. I told him I thought it was thyroid. Asked him to check my neck. Instead of listening and trying to help, he insulted me. My oncologist made fun of my weight gain. Ignored my symptoms that indicated thyroid/hormonal problem. Instead of being helped, I was insulted and made to feel that I was crazy and maybe I was the problem.

After this I ignored my symptoms even though they were getting worse. Finally I found the courage to say something to my family doctor. He checked my neck and had me set up for an ultrasound that week. Ultrasound showed a large growth on my thyroid. Next was biopsies and diagnosis. Papillary Thyroid Cancer. By the time I had thyroidectomy, cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. Papillary cancer is slowest growing of all thyroid cancers. I knew it.

So yes I am the head of my medical team. I won’t entertain any doctor’s ego. I will be heard. But I was lucky. It could have been much worse.

This morning I watched a documentary on HBO, Bleed Out. I was horrified. That is what led to this blog. I went into research mode.

The FDA receives over a 100,000 reports of medical errors a year in the US. That’s astronomical!

There are no easy fixes here. Let’s face facts. Once error is made, some things cannot be made right. So what can one do to protect themselves?

  1. Research! Research your doctors! Find out everything you can about them.
  2. Be proactive. You are the head of your medical team. Who knows your body better than you?
  3. Research your diagnosed condition. You need to understand the whys as to how you are feeling.
  4. Listen to your your instincts. If you are not comfortable with a plan of action laid out by your doctor then you have the right to speak up!

Will this prevent errors on their part? No! But it’s a start. Every individual has to empower themselves. It’s the best that we can do.