Son’s death turns mom into patient safety advocate (2 of 2)

In our last post, we discussed the heartbreaking story of a healthy 15-year-old South Carolina boy who fell victim to medical malpractice while undergoing an elective surgery to correct a congenital heart condition at Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital in Charleston.

Since the boy’s tragic death, his mother has been advocating for patient safety. Not only has the hospital where the malpractice occurred made changes to better protect patients, the mother was also able to get patient safety legislation passed in South Carolina in her son’s name.

Additionally, the boy’s mother now travels to hospitals around the nation giving advice on patient safety. Here is some of the advice she has to avoid becoming another victim of medical malpractice:

  1. Know the hierarchy of hospital staff.Don’t be afraid to ask to speak with someone higher up if you think something is wrong or that the person attending to you is missing something.
  2. Bring an advocate to stay with you.Chances are you won’t be feeling the greatest after having surgery. This is why it’s important to have a friend or family member with you who can speak up on your behalf and help you with the next steps.
  3. Keep a close eye on your medical records.Make sure to read your medical records to be aware of potential problems or disagreements between staff members. You may also have to bridge information as doctors and nurses don’t always look at each other’s notes.
  4. Write everything down in a journal.Keep a journal that details your care providers, treatments, vitals, medication, treatment, visits by hospital staff, symptoms and questions to ask.
  5. Be prepared.When many people go in for surgery they are simply not prepared for what they are about to experience. Make sure to sit down with your surgeon beforehand to go over all the details of the procedure and if there are any alternatives.

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