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Narrative Matters: A Physician Fights To Prevent Medical Errors From Killing His Mother

Posted By Chris Fleming On December 26, 2012 @ 3:53 pm In All Categories,Hospitals,Narrative Matters,Patient Safety,Personal Experience | No Comments

“Back when I was training to become an emergency physician, I’d worry about the day I’d be involved in a medical error,” Jonathan Welch writes in the December Health Affairs Narrative Mattes essay [1].

It seemed inevitable. With land mines everywhere—the possibilities of missed diagnoses, delayed treatments, miscommunication—it felt like almost anything could lead to catastrophe. I imagined attending the in-house case review afterward, chastened as my hospital colleagues dissected my decisions. Yet I also thought—and hoped—that something positive would come from the process, that lessons from an error would sharpen my clinical skills and improve care in the hospital.

But when I was entangled in my first medical error, I played an unexpected role: I was a thirty-three-year-old son trying to save my mom’s life.

Welch describes what happened after his mother received poor hospital care for an infection. He also discusses his efforts to ensure that something positive comes of his mother’s experience, and he explains what hospitals can do to prevent cases like his mother’s from happening again.

You can read Welch’s entire essay or listen to him read it [2]. Chelsea Conaboy writes about Welch’s piece [3] on the Boston Globe’s blog White Coat Notes, and Welch himself discusses how Congress and others can promote patient safety in a Roll Call op-ed [4].


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URLs in this post:

[1] the December Health Affairs Narrative Mattes essay: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/31/12/2817.abstract

[2] listen to him read it: http://www.healthaffairs.org/NM.php

[3] Chelsea Conaboy writes about Welch’s piece: http://www.boston.com/whitecoatnotes/2012/12/03/after-medical-error-led-his-mother-death-boston-doctor-felt-shut-out-hospital/o2pN1EdCCCq2b03wgHltSL/story.html

[4] a Roll Call op-ed: http://www.rollcall.com/news/welch_to_improve_health_care_must_partner_with_patients_and_families-220037-1.html?pg=2