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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.

Marcelle Franchino

Testimony before the Insurance Committee
March 4, 2004

I was born between the wars in a small village in France, near Grenoble.By the time I was two, both my parents had died and my brother, sister and I were raised by an aunt and uncle. Then the war came and the Germans took over the countryside. My Aunt died because the Germans had a curfew and when her appendix burst; the doctor could not go to the small clinic nor come to our house.

But the end of the war brought a new beginning for me. I married and moved to the United States. My husband was very special, not just to me but to his fellow employees at Pitney Bowes and to our relatives and to the good friends we made here. He always had a game he would make up and all our guests would enter in and play. We built a chalet on the side of a hill in Stamford and it reminded me of my origins. We both loved to work outside and garden. We planted trees, built walls and enjoyed our sylvan retreat.

The day before my husband had surgery to remove benign tumors, he rebuilt the railing on our deck. The next day he went in for surgery. Twenty days later he died of an infection, malnutrition and dehydration.

We must do something about the quality of the health care in our hospitals. There are too few nurses, and the system of rotating them means that they do not observe the changes in a patient from day to day. Who is in charge? The doctor who runs in for a few minutes in the morning? He or she may not even be the doctor who did the surgery. Patients are supposed to bring their own advocates but can they be there every day every minute? Isn't that the job of the hospital?

I knew that there was a problem with my husband's condition several days after the surgery when he developed a fever. Whatever caused the lack of continuity in his care, he became severely dehydrated, and just deteriorated before my eyes. After he died, it took me months to obtain his records. The hospital said they would provide them, but just kept stalling and stalling.

When mistakes are made hospitals need to tell the truth. Please don't tell me that my husband's surgery was successful. What is happening in our hospitals is the fault of the hospitals and the doctors who commit the errors. The public must be told about what is happening in our hospitals.

Marcelle Franchinot
Stamford, Connecticut


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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.