Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Caregiving when the medical community lacks accountability

It is very important that you be an advocate when you believe that physicians, surgeons, hospitals have not treated you or your loved one with appropriate care and treatment.

I recommend that you do at least two things -
(1) contact the hospital risk management office and
(2) contact (if appropriate) the Joint Commission and other relevant credentialing groups.

I posted earlier about a situation with Medical Director of the Duke University Infectious Disease Clinic (Dr. Eric Stout) and my very ill father.

Yesterday, I received a (frankly) ridiculous letter from the Duke Risk Management. The Duke Risk Manager evidently chose to believe a statement of facts from the Infectious Disease Clinic that were a fantasy. Duke Risk Management also had a fantasy of facts with respect to a September 2007 hospitalization when my father fell in the hospital room and was discharged the same day without any exam!

The point is that you as an advocate must understand that the purpose of a risk management office is not to find out the truth and be honest with you. Risk management offices are staffed with attorneys that are concerned with their own liability. Period.

You will never (okay, very rarely) receive an apology and acknowledgment of wrong doing by a risk management office. As an advocate, you are speaking with the risk management office in hopes that changes will be made internally (and without your knowledge) to keep patients safer.

After you receive the expected letter from risk management that you must have been on rack cocaine during the medical visit because your loved one received incredible care, don't be discouraged and quieted.

I, for example, have communications and complaints out to the Joint Commission and credentialing offices. Patient safety is too important for you as the advocate to be intimidated by risk management offices, doctors or surgeons.

The importance of patient safety and continuity of care is even more important in this current climate where the Obama administration is pushing universal, socialized medicine!

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