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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.

Gus Velez

I write you today because in 2002 I was a young man with a promising future as a financial analyst and an upcoming marriage. Then I was dealt a terrible blow that will change my entire life.

I had an inflamed colon and agreed to undergo "minimally invasive" surgery to correct it. It was supposed to be "routine." I would be in and out in a few days. But the doctor made a horrible blunder. During the surgery the doctor sewed up my aorta, the main artery in my body, stopping blood flow to both of my legs. As a result of that catastrophic error, both legs had to be amputated above the knee.

In medical terms it was an aortic transection with resultant bilateral transfemoral amputation. Translated, that means I have lost two legs and am confined to a wheelchair. What happened to me can be said in one sentence, but the implications of that event fill pages.

My fiance has become the main breadwinner. I want to work again but I doubt if I will be able to do more than part time for quite awhile. This physical therapy is a lot harder than anything I did on the rugby field. The pain is ongoing and at times excruciating.

This didn't just impact me and my fiance. My entire family has been affected. My brother and sister had a restaurant that my father had financially committed to. When the focus of the family became my disability and needs, they closed the restaurant and they all suffered financially. But they also got pretty depressed because they wanted to help me, to change the outcome of what had happened to me, and of course, they could not.

I need to tell people what happened to me because I want the public to know that we have healthcare professionals who are incompetent and a system that fails to do anything about it.

It was supposed to be "routine"


Watch Gus Velez tell his story of when a routine medical procedure went wrong due to a medical error.

 


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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
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  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.