What a New Doctor Learned About Medical Mistakes From Her Mom’s Death

January 9, 2013

09 Jan (PROPUBLICA)For Dr. Elaine Goodman, the strongest lessons in patient safety didn’t come from her training. They came from her mother’s death.  Goodman had just finished her first year of medical school when she found herself spending months at the bedside of her 63-year-old mom, who was battling breast cancer in the hospital.

Dr. Elaine Goodman

Goodman had just finished her first year of medical school when she found herself spending months at the bedside of her 63-year-old mom, who was battling breast cancer in the hospital. One morning she arrived to find her mother’s face and hands bloodied. Hallucinating and disoriented, her mom had yanked the cranial staples inserted during a recent procedure from her head. Another time, a stethoscope fell on her mom’s face and gave her a black eye. She suffered frequent falls and preventable side effects from drugs. And she narrowly missed having an unnecessary brain operation and getting an incorrect drug.

“It was really eye opening for me to see the reality of how difficult it was to keep her safe in the hospital,” Goodman said. “It’s not enough just to have caring, qualified people to keep the patient safe.”

Goodman believes the incidents hastened the decline of her mother, who died in 2008 after six months in the hospital. A Harvard Medical School grad, Goodman is now a second-year resident in internal medicine and primary care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

For her complete story go to here

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