Patient safety is something I’ve become particularly passionate about since I started working at Cook. Every day in the US approximately 54 people die from catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs)1. That number doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of people that get other hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) each year.
Knowing that people die every day from ‘never events’ just blows my mind. Why is this happening?Over the past five and a half years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet patients whose lives were saved by some of our technologies. I’ve also met family members of patients that have lost the battle with HAIs.
I recently met a woman whose 18-month-old daughter passed away from preventable medical errors. Since her daughter’s death, Sorrel King has dedicated her life “to preventing others from dying or being harmed by medical errors.” She has made significant strides in raising awareness for patient safety and the importance of being an empowered patient.
While the Josie King Foundation is doing great work, there’s one thing that bothers me about the situation. Sorrel has to constantly relive the unimaginable pain she went through on February 22, 2001, while trying to raise awareness for patient safety. We can’t continue to rely on the victims of these horrible tragedies to share their stories. We need more advocates. We must be our own advocates.
So now I ask, if you or a loved one were in the hospital, what would you do? I encourage you to look at the Josie King Foundation’s section titled For Patients and Families. I also encourage you to take notes. Yes, I’ve been laughed at by physicians and scoffed at by nurses while taking notes in a hospital. But it’s my responsibility as an empowered patient and family member to play an active role in my/my family’s health care. I have every right to write down medications, hospital staff names, procedures, verbal instructions, and even parking space numbers because an informed patient is an empowered one.
I will be an empowered patient. I will ask questions, demand the best technologies, and play an active role in my and my family’s health care.
Marsha Lovejoy, Manager of Public Relations and Patient Advocacy at Cook Medical
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Guidelines for the prevention of intravascular catheter-related infections. Washington, DC: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.