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When Medical Errors Go beyond What’s Tolerable

Candice Markham November 20, 2013 Comments Off on When Medical Errors Go beyond What’s Tolerable

medical errorsMedical errors happen all the time. However, some medical errors are just tolerable than the others. A simple typo on the name of the patient or age can still be fixed. What separates these tolerable errors from the intolerable ones is a thin line—more often than not, a fine line between life and death. And even when death doesn’t coming knocking at one’s door, if the damages have already been done, then there’s not much people can do.

Such is the case of Marjorie Norwood, 60, one of the 153 victims injected with mold-tainted steroid injections in Tennessee. Marjorie belongs to 113 of the total number of meningitis victims that got their steroid injections from the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurological Center of Saint Thomas West Hospital in Tennessee.

Marjorie is currently undergoing treatment for the health consequences of the fungal meningitis she contracted from the tainted injections from the same hospital that administered the injections. What’s interesting is that the hospital continues to bill her, and that medical bills are piling up due to her and her husband’s drained funds. “Our savings is gone. We have no savings, no retirement. Everything is gone,” she told the Associated Press.

As of press time, Marjorie has over $500,000 bills to pay. Her medicines cost between $400 and $600 per day. She is not sure whether how much more of her bills will her husband’s health insurance cover. According to the same AP report, Tennessee law imposes a cap on non-economic damages at $750,000. Marjorie will be contesting the said law provision soon.

Still, Saint Thomas West maintains that the hospital is just observing “normal billing practices” and that the institution’s agreement with Medicare restricts it from “deviating from those practices,” according to the AP report.

More families in Nashville are coming together for a legal fight against the healthcare institution, according to a report on WSMV.com. However, some of the cases were dismissed because the court ruled in favor of Saint Thomas Hospital, which administered the tainted shots but only got the injections from the New England Compounding Center, the pharmacy that made the injections.  The plaintiffs of these cases will be filing cases at the federal court.

How can blatant medical errors be addressed? Extensive healthcare training is one way of making sure that healthcare professionals in whatever department are equipped to do their job. In a UK study, 74 % of participants, who are composed of medical students, have expressed the need for having additional training while 56 percent claim that they “had not been thoroughly tested” in the area of pharmacology. This data should not be considered sufficient to represent the industry as a whole, it does give a glimpse of the dissatisfaction medical students and would-be medical practitioners have with their training. Perhaps, by re-evaluating the competencies of medical professionals, subjecting them to up-training, and revising training policies that concern their employment, medical errors can be prevented.

Medicine is no exact science. But then, it doesn’t mean that it can make room for errors just as generously. Your job, whether you’re in the allied healthcare field, a packaging personnel at a medication distributor company, working the hospital cashier counter, or out there treating patients in Intensive Care, plays an important role in preserving lives. Double-check everything you give out to patient, even if you’re job is not a customer-facing one.

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