Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Today's NYT: Medication errors are rampant--especially with Children!

May I say that having a kid with cancer has been quite a singular experience, and of medication errors, I know whereof I speak--so hopefully our experience can be helpful to YOU.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was in our local Ocean State Job Lot (The RI version of the Dollar Store!) and was thrilled to find this spring water we use there, so I bought 5 cases (each with 6 glass bottles) for a dollar a bottle. So when the cashier wrote it up at $27, I (trying to be honest), said, "Uh, I have 5 cases here," trying not to point out the fact, also, that 27 is not divisible by five, or six (and, please let me note, I'm TERRIBLE at math, but I do remember 6 x 5 = 30 from Schoolhouse Rock).

"Okay," she said. "So it's 24 bottles, right?" I shook my head, and she had to (poor thing) literally take out all those heavy cases (avoiding this is why I bought them by the case in the 1st place) and literally counted them meenie miney mo, etc. 2-3 times and finally got 30 2 times out of 3.

I got a laugh out of this with MAN FERTILITY, as he knows that racial stereotypes dictate that I should be good at math, and I was proud to have finally encountered someone whose math skills were worse than mine.

This would all be funny EXCEPT, that it made us recall the time, pre-op at a very large, busy hospital in Los Angeles, that that one of the nurses asked us our son' J's weight, and my husband told them, careful to spell it out THAT'S IN POUNDS. So (nosey mom that I am) I glanced at the chart when she went off to get the pre-op sedative, and saw it was something like 66.4 kg--TOTALLY the wrong way!!!! 1 lb= .45 kilograms, which, last time I checked, was what we learned in high school chem class.

I did my war dance, and she was sort of like,"Tee-hee, oops! I thought it was 2.2 pounds per kg." (this was also after J almost got the wrong treatment bec. someone else had a name/age similar to his...)

Now, don't let me scare you, but I have dozens of stories like that, given that we've been in the hospital for months and months. I guess you could say dozens of incidents/many days in hospital only means a few incidents/day....but even one is way bad, in my book.

Let me leave you with just one more:

When J came out of surgery (a different time), and, like in the article, was handed off from surgery to intensive care, MAN FERTILITY or I was at J's bedside every minute. I was (irrationally, I know) primarily worried about those "angel of death" type nurses who intentionally give people too many meds. So when a nurse comes in with a huuuuuge syringe of Tylenol 3 to stick in J's IV bag, I was like, "Hold on there, missy, that's at least 2x as much as he usually gets."

And she said (use angry, snippy voice, "It's in a different syringe [you idiot] that's wider than it is long." And she showed me the CCs and indeed it was the same volume, and it had just been an optical illusion, and I felt bad, I guess.

....Until, when I was banging around the halls looking for some juice or something, I heard the same nurse, getting ready to go into the room with a nursing assistant. She said something to the assistant, like, "The mom in there is a huge pain in the ass, but I'm glad she questioned me about the Tylenol 3, since we make mistakes all the time and no one checks--I wish MORE PARENTS WOULD DO THIS." (Of course, her behavior toward me when she saw me in person was less than reinforcing, she still treated me like the total who-are-you-to-question-me? pain in the ass...oh well)

The moral of the story is: check your purchases at the Job Lot and your meds ALL THE TIME. Bring your calculator if you're forgetting your times tables, like me.

If it's your child, your parent, YOU, don't be afraid to be a bitch like the FertilityBITCH. Your nurses may even (secretly) thank you for it.


Anonymous said...

That's harsh, GF, and I've been there myself with the medical errors. Sorry to hear that you've had to go through that with your son; the whole 9 yards.

I won't tell you all my stories here, but let me just drop the fact that during my second of 3 surgeries, 2 of 3 lymph nodes were LOST between the surgical room and the pathology lab. My surgeon said she almost fell off her chair when she read "one lymph node...." in the path report.

This subject of medication errors is HUGE, and yes, people need to pay attention to everything they put in their bodies and question the person giving it to them. It can be so intimidating, but could ultimately save your life.

My empathies to you....

GreenFertility said...

Oh no! I assume they were removing them precisely to DO a path on them. Where did they GO???? (Under the bed?)

Mother of Punk said...

I have been reading all of these pages here and the enlightening aspect and the story-sharing-compassion-giving aspect should be enough to quiet the screaming inside my head, the ache in my heart, the anger at the satanic unfairness of it all. I am a mother of three little boys. I hold regrets about decisions my husband and I have made in the past concerning our family's health. My sons are not aware that their mother, born at home, gave birth at home and aspiring to become a midwife, feels guilt that I brought forth serfs and guinea pigs for Big Brother. I believe that all hopes and fears will manifest someday, somehow and as all things are made up of energy our thoughts and actions and words ought to be pure and loving. In spite of my well-founded fears, every affection exchanged between my sons and me is nothing short of heaven on earth. For so many years now at my own bedtime when I make a final inspection of my sleeping babes (making sure all tiny legs are tucked warmly under covers and what not) I never leave out blowing kisses to you and your little babes (little as in infants to grad students)and sometimes even cry a little.