Thursday, June 25, 2009
Imagine your 44 year old husband suffers electrocution and severe burns at work. He is rushed to one of the best hospitals in the country and you anticipate a few days in the hospital while he recovers and receives compassionate care. Instead , the care is erratic, the professionals are rude and arrogant, and one complication after another spirals him into septic shock and coma. That is the account of Lisa Lindell, wife and author of "108 Days".
This book is really riveting and I found myself grimacing, denying, experiencing shock and awe, nodding and finally understanding so much about her saga and attempts to protect her dying husband from one medical error after another. Written in diary format, Lisa Lindell became a reluctant patient advocate and through sheer determination and vigilance, kept her husband alive.
She was never informed about what was going on with his care and her attempts to speak to his various treating physicians were thwarted constantly. Despite the fact that he was at high risk for infection, and almost died of septic shock, the isolation precautions and hand washing could not be counted on. With new nurses on every shift, no one saw her husband as an entire person and her efforts to inform the staff of his declining respiration ( which became ventilator associated pneumonia), oozing scratched eyes (scratched cornea which left him sight impaired), and bed sores were ignored. It seems like the medical team gave up on Curtis Lindell and certainly did not value his wife's input. By her account, the hospital administration was down right hostile to her .
This book confirms that every patient needs an advocate to watch and inform and ensure safety. The fact that the events occurred in 2003 are reassuring because I know there has been a wave of patient safety and changes in hospital quality protocols that have been instituted across the country since then. I have been in contact with the book's author, and she says the "world famous" institution where Curtis spent 108 days hasn't changed much. That is sad and scary.
If you want a good read, pick up "108 Days". It is a story that will anger you and the fact that he survived is a true miracle.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 8:50 PM