Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I tell a dentist friend I'm the victim of yet another medical mistake

I have pulmonary fibrosis which doctors agree was caused by misprescription of a dangerous drug called amiodarone. In my case, the drug, which is supposed to be used only as a drug of last resort, was prescribed for a minor non-life-threatening condition. It caused pulmonary fibrosis, which is progressive and fatal. There is no treatment for PF. Following is an email I sent on May 9 to a dentists friend detailing yet another serious medical mistake.
                                                                  May 9, 2012
Barry -
I'm being infused for 28 days by an infectious disease doctor because of a strep viridans infection that was first diagnosed in late March but the lab work never reported to my personal doctor until early May. While I'm being infused is the ideal time for a dentist to work on me. That's the reason for looking for the old x-rays for comparison.
Kathie was the one pushing me to get copies of Dr. Ford's year-old x-rays that you have. I have no objections to a dentist/periodontist taking new x-rays for some that are almost a year old.
On March 21, I went to the Emergency Room at St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta (run now by Emory University Hospitals) on the orders of my pulmonologist. He wanted blood and urine work after I complained of chills and fever - my temperature was running from 95 to 103F.
The emergency room said that night after running the tests that there was nothing to worry about - just modestly elevated white blood counts indicating I was fighting an infection. They passed that report on to the pulmonologist next day. But then the Emergency Room at St. Joe's cultured the blood, and 3-4 days later diagnosed the strep viridans. Unfortunately, the St. Joe's Emergency Room didn't pass that on to the pulmonologist until I saw him routinely on May 1, more than a month after I'd been to the Emergency Room. I (or daughter Dawn who was with me) asked the pulmonologist on May 1 about what happened to the blood culture the Emergency Room doctor had said would be run. The pulmonologist then asked for a copy of the culture report from the Emergency Room, and on May 5 (a Saturday) the pulmonologist called to let me know about the strep diagnosis.
The problem with strep is that I have mitral valve leakage and the strep can attack heart valves. That can be fatal. The pulmonologist called me on May 5 and said he wanted me to go into the hospital immediately for treatment. I saw the infectious disease doctor on May 7. He said it would be enough for me to get an antibiotic daily for 28 days on an outpatient basis. The daily infusion treatment started on May 7, and I now have a picc line inserted in a main artery to permit the daily treatments.
This failure of the Emergency Room to report a serious diagnosis to my pulmonologist or, at the very least, to an infectious disease doctor, is just one more example of the out-of-control medical establishment in the U.S. Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after only heart disease and cancer. I'm dying of one such mistake, the misprescription of amiodarone which induced pulmonary fibrosis within five months.
Medical mistakes account for 200,000 fatalities per year in the U.S., with no progress made in reducing that number in the last 10 years. Hundreds of thousands more suffer needlessly each year because of medical mistakes. We're spending 17-18 percent of GNP in the U.S. on medical care - twice as much as any of the other developed nations. Our medical expenditures are approaching $3 trillion per year - and we're still making hundreds of thousands of medical mistakes annually. This is a dismal record!
Noel Griese
Anvil Brokers/Anvil Publishers, Inc.

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