I cannot more strongly support Dr James call to be persistant about reporting errors. In my case, an xray report was misread and through an astounding amount of errors my dislocated knee was not treated for over a month, leaving me with permanent disabilities. When it finally became clear that I had a dislocated knee, the Dr told me it was not dislocated the day of my fall, but the swelling had later “pushed” it out of joint – and my many complications were because of my “pre-existing” arthritis.
This did not seem plausible to me considering my pain and symptoms, but after all I am not an orthopedist.
When I later took my x-rays for a 2nd opinion and looked at them, I could see for myself that my knee was clearly dislocated the day of my fall. But if I were not a nurse I would never have known the truth.
It took several letters to the hospital before I received any response. About 4 years after my fall, I received a form letter of apology that they “were sorry their care did not meet my expectations.” Although they did note that my x-ray report had been amended – therefore quietly admitting their mistake.
I tried to make a complaint to the DOH – but by the time I could confirm the error it was over a year since the event and at least in my state they do not look at things over a year old.
I made a complaint to the MD disciplinary board over the gross negligence of my case, but the hearing was not open to me and I was just told there was no professional misconduct by my physicians. Since I had already been misled by at least one of the MDs, I had no confidence in the findings that were presented at a meeting I could not attend. My subjective feeling is that if someone left a cat or dog suffering for a month with a joint dislocation that person would be arrested for cruelty to animals. But the suffering I endured did not even merit a reprimand.
Having vented all of that – I think my experience demonstrates the persistence it takes to break through these barriers. And when you or a loved one are still recovering it makes everything so much harder and exhausting. I am certain the majority of patients experiencing an adverse event are not even aware of it. So whenever we can we need to make sure every error is documented.