A tragic story appears in this morning's Washington Post about a 44 year old man who died because hospital physicians failed to timely diagnose and treat his bowel perforation. The hole in his bowel allowed fecal matter to leak into his abdomen, causing dangerous toxins and bacteria to be released into his blood stream. Adding to the tragedy was the fact that the man's wife, herself a nurse, suspected that he had a perforation and begged hospital staff unsuccessfully to order a CT scan of her husband's abdomen. Read the full story here.
One of the things that struck me about this piece was the ordinariness of the events described in the story. I hear similar tales of frustration often. Communication breakdown leads to medical errors. Medical providers often do not listen to their patients or they hear them and have contempt for what they have to say. Though often difficult and aggravating, patients and their families must be persistent and composed when dealing with health care providers. If there is something that needs to be said, say it; again and again if necessary.