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Medical error can have devastating effects. Here, in their own words, Connecticut families tell the stories of how medical error changed their lives forever.

Felecia Gerardi

No one would listen!!

On March 10 2006 following a routine laparoscopic Hysterectomy, I knew there was a problem. A very disgusting odor discharge was coming out my body. No tests were ordered and I was catheterized three days after the initial surgery. Dr McDonnell who performed my surgery knew that I was still in the hospital but didn't come to see me till Tuesday. She called in a Urologist who discovered I had a severed R Ureter. I was brought to the O.R. opened up he discovered puss pockets in my abdomen. I could not be repaired at this time so he had a tube placed in my R Kidney to drain the urine.

I was getting sicker and sicker. I kept asking why am I still leaking stuff and why is it green? Could I have an intestinal leak? My Dr and others brought in on my case treated me as if I were crazy. Finally 8 or 9 days later when I tried to eat a piece of food it came out clumpy green stuff. I insisted on being tested, looked like feces to me. Only then did they test me and I was right - there was 2 holes in my small intestine.

I was in the fight for my life. What was supposed to be a 1 day surgery had become 30 days hospitalized, tubes, and bags for 5 months and several more repair surgeries were required.. I still have chronic pain from a large piece of mesh that had to be put into my abdomen from developing a surgical hernia, and I have a lot of fear of ending up back in the hospital. I've already been back for an obstruction in my bowel because of scar tissue from all my repair surgeries which can happen again. This experience has given me a determination to work for patients’ voices to be heard!!

On their web site Eastern Connecticut Health Network says that it will provide health care services that exceed the expectations of our patients, physicians and community by”

  • Collaborating with other providers, competing effectively, aligning resources with priorities and providing professional education to deliver clinical quality in a safe environment
  • Developing motivated, committed, competent and compassionate employees
  • Practicing our core values of teamwork, respect and communication in a caring environment.

To say they fell short is an understatement. I want to see each hospital pay into an independent agency.That agency would hire independent patient advocates that would work in each hospital – working for the patient and not the hospital. When someone is hospitalized, that person or his family should be given the name and the phone number of that advocate. I needed someone who would listen and no one did.


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Becoming a More Empowered Patient

First, we have chosen to share a video by Consumer Health Choices: Talking With Your Doctor. In it you will see how preparing for you appointment can make a difference.

We have chosen a second video by the National Patient Safety Foundation: AskMe3, to share with you. Here, you learn that there are three important questions to ask your doctor whenever you see him or her.

Finally, we are sharing a series of videos by Dartmouth-Hitchcock:
Self-Advocacy: The Empowered Patient,
Self-Advocacy: Preparing for your Visit,
Self-Advocacy: Why It's Important To Share and
Self-Advocacy: Doing Research.

For the complete story, please click here

5 Things to Know

  1. What you need to know in the Hospital
  2. 15 Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Risk of a Hospital Infection
  3. Selecting Doctors & Hospitals
  4. What to do to avoid medication error
  5. AHRQ Director Helps Consumers Navigate the Health Care System in a New Advice Column on the Web

You've Suffered Medical Harm - Now What Do You Do?

According to a recent article published by ProPublica titled: So You’ve Become a Patient Safety Statistic – Now What? by Marshall Allen there are six things to do….

  1. Get a copy of medical records.
  2. Make sure the incident is reported internally.
  3. If the patient has died, order a forensic autopsy.
  4. Consider calling an attorney.
  5. Meet with the doctor and hospital officials.
  6. Report the incident to regulators, who can investigate.

For greater detail and more important information, please read the full article.