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Show 1074: Surviving Medical Errors and Seeking the Truth

Show 1074: Surviving Medical Errors and Seeking the Truth

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Medical errors and misadventures account for surprisingly high mortality in the U.S. Some experts estimate that they should be considered the third leading cause of death in this country. Many such mistakes could be prevented. How can you protect yourself or a family member from becoming a victim of medical errors?

Many major causes of death and disability have their own institute within the National Institutes of Health. There is, however, no institute for the prevention of medical errors. Very little funding is available to study this problem. How does it affect patients' lives?

The Patient in Room 2 Tells All:

Donna Helen Crisp was a nursing professor on the morning she was admitted to a hospital for surgery.  Instead of going home the next day, she suffered multiple medical errors and spent a month in the hospital, most of it in a coma.  When the hospital refused to comment, Crisp spent eight years researching and writing her book.

Research shows that most patients who have suffered medical errors want transparency with clear explanations of what went wrong, sincere apologies for the harm they experienced and a plan so that no other patients need suffer the same problems.

Health care administrators do not always respond with transparency and compassion, though. They may need training and practice to improve their skills of disclosure. We discuss the obstacles and how they could be confronted.

This Week's Guest:

Donna Helen Crisp, JD, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC, is a former assistant professor of nursing at the School of Nursing of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has worked as a nursing clinician, administrator, supervisor, consultant and researcher as well as teacher. Prior to earning her nursing degrees, she worked in social work, law and music.

She is the author of Anatomy of Medical Errors: The Patient in Room 2: A Nurse's Story of Surviving Preventable Medical Errors and Discovering the Truth. There is more information at her website:

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