Health care ‘still not safe,’ speaker says |

Health care ‘still not safe,’ speaker says

Nicole Frey
Nicole Frey/

EDWARDS – When Sherri McArthur received a hysterectomy, she said she didn’t really understand what her surgeon did, nor did she ask. McArthur also didn’t ask for her medical records and she didn’t keep a log of her doctor’s visits. But that’s all about to change, she said. After listening to Jennifer Dingham speak, McArthur, along with many other men and women are ready to be more involved in their medical care. Dingham, co-president of Persons United Limiting Substandard and Errors in Healthcare or P.U.L.S.E, was the guest speaker at a luncheon hosted by the first Kimberly Linn McDonald Foundation during Patient Safety Awareness Week. And her message was one of action. “There needs to be outrage about what’s going on,” she said. Although she didn’t fault physicians, Dingham said the medical system is in distress, and patients are the ones suffering. Patients have long accepted doctors’ words as law and a challenge that culture is long overdue, she said. “Things in the health care environment aren’t what you think,” Dingham said. “You’re just one of many people.”For many, like McArthur, it was the first time they’d been told to keep a log of doctor’s visits. “I realized that when I had my surgery, I had no idea what my doctor was doing,” McArthur said.Others, like Terry Benedickt, were all too familiar with the necessary precautions one must take with the medical system. “It comes from too many times of not getting answers to my questions,” she said. While Dingham went through individual precautions people should take, she said the only way to get the system to take responsibility was to organize and get political. She encouraged people to form teams and go to town, county and state meetings. If enough people get involved, she said, they’ll be able to make a difference.

“It’s a political issue as much as a medical issue,” Dingham said. “The system is so overloaded. Despite many people trying to be vigilant, it’s still not safe.”======================Steps to patient safety1. Write down questions before a doctor’s visit.2. Learn about your diagnosis.3. Take someone with you when you visit a doctor or hospital.4. Keep a list of all the medicines you take.5. Get the results of any test or procedure.

6. Talk to your doctor about which hospital is best for your health needs.7. Make sure you understand what will happen if you need surgery.8. If you feel worse after surgery, go back, ask questions and be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer and get a second opinion. 9. Keep notes of doctor’s visits.- Provided by the American Hospital and Medical associations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Persons United Limiting Substandard and Error in Healthcare==========================================The playersP.U.L.S.E AmericaPersons United Limiting Substandard and Errors in Healthcare is a nonprofit group for the victims of medical errors and substandard health care. For more information, contact or (516) 579-4711 or visit P.U.L.S.E’s chat room at

100k Lives CampaignThe 100k Lives Campaign is a nationwide effort to reduce deaths in U.S. hospitals and save 100,000 lives by 9 a.m., June 14. Nearly 3,000 hospitals across the country are enrolled in the campaign. See which hospitals are participating in the campaign by visiting The Kimberly Linn McDonald FoundationThe foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in honor of 15-year-old Kimberly McDonald who died Nov. 18, 2000 after having surgery in Vail. The foundation works toward greater patient safety and provides scholarships to medical students. For more information, call 926-8202. =======================Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or Vail, Colorado

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