Reflection Day One

We started our week of patient safety discussions with the story of Lewis Blackman. As we watched the tragedy unfold, I felt sick watching well-meaning medical professionals ignore numerous red flags as well as the concerns of Lewis’s mother during the four days following his surgery. One quote from Lewis’s mother, Helen Haskell, stayed with me long after we finished the film and it is something I will never forget. She said if Lewis had been anywhere else but a hospital, she would have called 911 and Lewis would still be alive today. To me, this speaks to the horrifying extent to which the healthcare system has failed patients and the poisonous Wall of Silence that continues to be perpetuated. How can the place where you are supposed to be the safest be the one place where you are most isolated from the care that you need? For a person who aspires to heal patients and above all do no harm, this statement cut me to my core. Through today’s classroom discussions I realized that this was a common theme in many cases of medical errors. If the patients’ families had been in another situation, not in a hospital, they would have called 911 for the care that they thought their loved ones desperately needed and deserved. In this way, the hospital that served Lewis Blackman was almost like a prison, where his family felt locked in to the care they were receiving and made the assumption that Lewis was being cared for in a way that was in his best interest, because that’s what the doctors kept telling them. There is so much work to be done in patient safety and I think today was an excellent look at the overall goal that we should be working towards and the incredible importance of living up to the promises that we make to patients and their families.

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