Medical errors are the third leading cause of fatality in the United States, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. As patients, we trust that we are in good hands, and that our healthcare professional is going to provide the exceptional medical care we deserve. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Medical errors have become a serious problem in the healthcare industry in recent years. From misdiagnosing a condition or administering the wrong drug to operating on the wrong body part or failing to remove a medical instrument from the patient’s body, medical mistakes can have devastating consequences on the patient and their family.
Steve Burrows is a filmmaker and comedian who is all too familiar with the impact that a medical error can have, and the devastation it can cause. He documents his personal story in his new HBO documentary called Bleed Out. The movie provides a detailed account of what happened to his mother after she went in to the hospital for a routine hip surgery, and the medical mistake that caused permanent brain damage and significant pain and suffering.
According to Burrows, his mother suffered massive blood loss during the procedure, which is how the nightmare began. Because she lost over half the blood in her body, Burrow’s mother was sent to the electronic intensive care unit (eICU), which provides 24-hour monitoring for patients who are recovering from a medical emergency. Video cameras, microphones, and alarms ensure that the patient is always monitored. Unfortunately, the camera in the room was not on, and there was no doctor in the eICU that night. As a result, his mother was in a coma for over 36 hours, where she received no medical attention.
Emotional and Financial Toll of Medical Mistakes
Prior to the surgery, Burrow’s mother was an independent, adventurous woman who worked hard her entire life. She was a single mother of two children, who grew to be successful adults. After the surgery, her health continued to decline. She lost her speech, which had a devastating impact on her quality of life. She recently started long-term hospice care due to her declining health.
Burrows hopes that his film raises awareness of medical errors, and that it encourages people to ask questions about their recommended treatment plan, and the potential risks involved. He also recommends consulting a patient advocate, who can make sure that you understand your rights and that your voice is heard. I would urge people to spend as much time and effort on finding the right doctor that they do when shopping for a new car, said Burrows. It could be a life-saving decision.