Monday, March 09, 2015

"Grief is my twin"

My colleague Carole Hemmelgarn is the guest columnist over at Educate the Young this week.  Please read this thoughtful and moving piece.  Excerpts:

March 8th starts National Patient Safety week and it is with great irony that I write this blog because it is the anniversary of the day my daughter, Alyssa, died from medical errors. I am grateful for the focus being made in the field of patient safety.

However, I want to bring the focus back to the human side of patient safety and that is the patient and family after harm has occurred. There is this aftermath, which is rarely spoken of, and it is what happens to those survivors living without their child, spouse, parent or sibling years down the road.

I’ve come to realize grief is my twin. It will never go away and we have learned to coexist. Please understand grief is not always bad. I find solace in my grief because we speak the same language.  

What most people don’t realize is loss of a loved one, and in particular, a child, changes so many things.
  1. Marriage changes.
  2. Your children are affected.
  3. Your relationship with family members change.
  4. Friendships change…..
The most difficult are the milestones your child will not experience: moving through elementary, middle, and high school, not graduating from college, getting a job, married or having children. These events go on for years and this is the aftermath not seen.


Tanya Lord said...

From Facebook:

There are so many of us who carry the grief of losing someone we love to medical error. The aftermath to a family continues on after the RCA is complete, changes made (hopefully) and work at the hospital returns to normal. Thank you for sharing this very important piece of it.

Dale Ann Micalizzi said...

Exactly, right...and yet so much more changes following a death from medical error. Your job and relationships with colleagues changes, your reluctance to trust healthcare providers again changes, your spiritual beliefs change for better or for worse, your family changes-every single member, your health changes, the way you do many things changes completely.... We are not the same and never will be. It is nice to have a "twin" tagging along to understand the reasons for the changes and accepting you as you are now. A bit stronger and a bit weaker but willing to move forward, as many of us have, with a passion to make healthcare safer because our child mattered....and we wouldn't wish this post trauma (aka grief) on anyone. Let's listen to the families, make improvements in healthcare that caused harm to these families, offer support following loss and understand that our grief doesn't leave us. Contact families and tell them how YOU made changes because of the tragedy that occurred to their loved ones.

Suzanne Nevins said...

From Facebook:

I have met so many of these moms and they are all amazing on how they take this pain and work to help others..

Vik Khanna said...

I read her piece. Wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. My son turned 11 this week, and this made me want to run to his school and hug him.

He has mild, manageable medical problems, and I guard his interaction with the medical industry like our German Shepherds follow him around when he is home. Medical trust is gone. Medical care providers are simply vendors of complex services. They should be treated as such and not as heaven-sent angels of mercy.

I have come to believe that this problem cannot be solved by the industry or civil law. People need to go to prison. Wrongful death due to preventable medical error should a felony.

Anonymous said...

I lost my husband to medical errors. A number of errors contributed to his death. Everyday I wish it had been me who died instead of him. It's been over a year and it feels like yesterday. My relationship with our only child has changed and she is coping with her own grief. Once they're gone the aftermath is staggering and lifelong. It like the medical error that took him took me as well. Many doctors don't even realize they committed a medical error. My husband was passed through the system as he was admitted to the hospital. They forgot to treat him. Everyone thought someone else was doing the job. Only after much persistence on my part did they recognize they made 3 errors in a row. They said they were very sorry and would make changes. This is not enough for me. It is disturbing that they didn't even realize they made these errors until I pointed them out. How many people would spend months obtaining the records and then digging through them? Most people couldn't even read them. The ones reported are the tip of the iceberg. Medical personnel and hospitals don't want to know they made errors. There is NO economic in incentive to research, report or change with respect to medical errors. Medical errors most often bring more care and therefore more health care dollars into the medical system. That's just a fact. Where is the monetary incentive to change? Its really all about the money. I wouldn't trust any doctor or hospital - we were at several of the most prestigious in the U.S. and sadly, they are all alike. That's the really ugly truth. The medical industry profits from their errors.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article showing how hospitals profit more from surgical complications.