Follow us on:

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

Lorraine J. Piurowski

My name is Lorraine Piurowski and I am a resident of South Windsor. In October 2007, my husband underwent successful surgery for cancer. His hospital records indicate that he was progressing well. He was able to walk the hospital corridor, eat a regular diet, and use the bathroom without assistance. He spoke with family and friends by phone and spoke eagerly of returning to his full-time job as a machinist, something his doctor said could occur 4 to 6 weeks after discharge.

On Friday, November 2, 2007, he called me at home to inform me that he was going to be discharged the next day, Saturday, November 3, at 10:00 a.m. He had been diagnosed with pneumonia a couple of days earlier, but at that time the pneumonia was not presented to us as life threatening and was only described as a setback. He was being treated with Vancomycin.

On Saturday, November 3, 2007, I arrived at the hospital carrying my husband’s clothes, expecting to be bringing him home. I walked into the unit, past the nurse’s station, and into his room. At first, it did not register to me that the room had been prepared to receive a new patient: the bed was freshly made, and no personal items were noticed. It did not register with me that my husband was no longer occupying the room, and I knocked on the bathroom door. “Jerry, are you in there?” Seconds later, a staff member came into the room and asked me, “Didn’t anyone from ICU call you and tell you that he was transferred to the ICU early this morning?” I simply said that no one had called me. I then followed her to the ICU, where my husband was just being placed in a medically-induced coma so that he could be placed on a ventilator. I would never have the opportunity to speak with my husband again and, for the next month until he died on December 1, he would remain in a coma and on a ventilator.

My husband’s pneumonia turned out to be “MRSA pneumonia,” which was totally non-responsive to antibiotics. The fact is it was too easy for my husband to acquire MRSA in the hospital, as hospitals that do not routinely screen patients have relatively high rates of MRSA-related infections. My husband was not pre-screened for MRSA-resistant staph, nor to my knowledge was any other patient. Other states have passed MRSA screening laws that recognize that screening is an essential, life-saving measure that saves lives and money. The cost of my husband’s hospitalization was nearly $400,000—a cost that far exceeds the cost of screening. The number of hospital-acquired MRSA infections can be dramatically reduced. Other states have demonstrated that fact.

I write this in memory of my husband and on behalf on those patients whose lives could still be saved by the enactment of MRSA screening legislation. You do not know how deadly this bacterial infection can be until you helplessly watch a loved one slowly succumb to it.


Newsletter

Did you miss an issue of our online newsletter? You can access past newsletter issues or you can receive future newsletters via email by joining our mailing list.

Health Care Blog

An Invitation to Patient and Family Engaged Care for Consumers: What it is, Why it Matters and How Patients and Families Can Engage
As one of the co-authors, I am excited to share that the BMJ has just published, as a response to a …
Continue Reading »

The Puzzling Popularity of Back Surgery in Certain Regions
the New York Times  | The New Health Care  |  By AUSTIN FRAKT and JONATHAN SKINNER  |…
Continue Reading »

Those Indecipherable Medical Bills? They’re One Reason Health Care Costs So Much
The New York Times Magazine  |  By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL  |  MARCH 29, 2017 “… A…
Continue Reading »


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.