Blog

The Vision and the Voice of Patient Advocacy

The Vision and the Voice of Patient Advocacy

  When Dr. Susan McIver asked me to write the afterword for her book, After the Error: Speaking out about patient safety to save lives, her request seemed simple enough – talk about the genesis my work as a patient safety and engagement advocate and explain why I remain committed to this cause. The task seemed simple and straightforward, but putting my motivation and goals for doing this rewarding work into words was more challenging than I expected. The following is my attempt to pay tribute to everyone who has shared their painful health care experiences in the hopes of making things...

Read More

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic Errors

Preventing Diagnostic Errors   An article I read today online at the Journal of the American Medical Association network about diagnostic errors brought back painful and frustrating memories. As the parent of a child who suffered a life-altering delay in diagnosis, I have worked for over a decade to educate the public about the role they can, and must, play in ensuring safe medical care for themselves and their loved ones. Diagnostic issues continue to occur frequently and often with serious consequences and cost. Our Empowered Patient ® Hospital Guide devotes an entire chapter to the...

Read More

How My Mom’s Death Changed My Mind About End-Of-Life Care

By Charles Ornstein   My father, sister and I sat in the near-empty Chinese restaurant, picking at our plates, unable to avoid the question that we’d gathered to discuss: When was it time to let Mom die? It had been a grueling day at the hospital, watching — praying — for any sign that my mother would emerge from her coma. Three days earlier she’d been admitted for nausea; she had a nasty cough and was having trouble keeping food down. But while a nurse tried to insert a nasogastric tube, her heart stopped. She required CPR for nine minutes. Even before I flew into town, a ventilator...

Read More

Five Safe Surgery Tips for Patients

Five Safe Surgery Tips for Patients

First appeared as a special to ProPublica, October 15, 2012 My late daughter, Katherine Eileen Hallisy, was 5-months-old when she was diagnosed with malignant tumors in both eyes. We knew cancer would be a formidable enemy. But we did not expect to fall victim to medical error, misdiagnosis and fragmented and chaotic care. I learned the hard way how to protect my daughter. Once, when Kate developed worrisome signs after a biopsy, our discharge papers directed us to contact the emergency room. Staffers there did not expect to be contacted for follow-up, and advised us to stay home. We missed...

Read More

A Failure to Rescue – Donna Bajone

A Failure to Rescue – Donna Bajone

Some families have a member who radiates such innate happiness and light that she illuminates the lives of everyone fortunate enough to live in her orbit. For my family, that person was my late sister Donna. Donna was born in 1968 with a congenital heart defect and spent the first two years of her life struggling with bouts of heart failure, pneumonia, and the inability to grow and thrive. Her only hope was open heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect, a ventricular septal defect, and mitral valve insufficiency. We were fortunate to live near Stanford University, where prominent...

Read More

Our Goodbye to Kate

Our Goodbye to Kate

Eulogy read at the services for Katherine “Kate” Hallisy: At this difficult time we take solace in the outpouring of support for our family because the years have taught us that grief shared is grief diffused. It is time again to draw on the many strengths that sharing Kate’s life has given us. She taught us to search for our happiness, to choose to see the good in every person and every situation, and to treasure every small kindness, every tender mercy – because there were many. Because of Kate, we lived with everyday miracles and her glorious life always led us to the...

Read More