How To Avoid a Hospital Mixup

How To Avoid a Hospital Mixup | You'll find this and other quick and easy life hacks and organization hacks at https://rnn10.wordpress.com

It’s happened again.

“Hospital Confuses Teen Accident Survivor with Non-Surviving Friend for an Entire Week”

Remember the story of teens Whitney Cerak and Laura Van Ryn, whose car was struck by a truck in Indiana?  One of the teens was killed instantly and the other lay in a coma for five weeks.  That would have been tragic enough, if it weren’t for the fact that the hospital misidentified the girls.   Whitney’s family buried the girl who they thought was their daughter, while Laura’s family stayed at the other girl’s bedside.  It wasn’t until the surviving girl woke up five weeks later, that everyone realized it was actually Whitney who had survived.
This time Arizona teens Abby Guerra and Marlena Cantu had an accident while driving back from Disneyland.  Abby’s parents were told she did not survive as Marlena’s parents held vigil by her bedside for one week until a belated autopsy uncovered the fact that it was actually Marlena who had died and not Abby.  Both girl’s parents not only had to experience the horrible shock of the accident and the death/critical injury of a daughter, but now their roles were reversed.  Marlena’s parents having spent the week at their “daughter’s” bedside, now have a funeral to plan.  ABC News reporters Andrea Canning & Lee Ferram’s story can be found at this link
The worst part about this story, is that the mixup was completely unnecessary.
The girls had three unique identifiers that should have immediately pointed out the differences between them, making a correct identification much easier.  They might have looked similar, but Marlena was two inches taller than Abby, still had her wisdom teeth and an appendectomy scar.
Hospitals, especially metropolitan trauma centers are extraordinarily busy.  Not only are the nurses and doctors overworked, but their immediate focus is on saving the life in front of them, not identifying victims who didn’t survive.  But – and this is a big but – when a hospital has two accident victims who are similar in age, hair and facial characteristics, they can’t just assume that they know which victim is which.
And it’s not just the family that suffers when identities are mixed up.  Treating a patient without the right medical history in mind, or worse, someone else’s, can have tragic results.  There was a story on the FOX series “House” a while back, where just this thing happened.  Two women who had similar facial features and body types were in an explosion in their office building.  One survived and one did not.  House (Hugh Laurie) and his team couldn’t figure out why the treatment they were giving their patient was making her worse.  Finally, when she was at the brink of death, they realized that the symptoms were consistent with a bad reaction to a medication they were giving her – a medication that the girl they thought they had, wasn’t allergic to.  That was when House realized that their patient was actually the woman everyone though had passed away in the explosion.  David Shore and Katie Jacobs did a wonderful job bringing this complicated, tragic story to life.
Much, much more has to be done to ensure that the victims of any accident – especially one in which the victims are similar in age and appearance, are correctly identified.  Since we weren’t there that night when Abby and Marlena were brought into the emergency department, we can’t know exactly what was said or what was done.  We don’t know that the family didn’t ask all the right questions or if they did, but the questions were rebuffed or simply remained unanswered.  We don’t know if the busy trauma staff simply set aside their normal identification procedures until later, or if everyone just assumed that every identification procedure that should have taken place, had actually occurred.
All we really know is that two families not only suffered a horrible shock and loss, but were made to live through an additional tragedy – one that was completely unnecessary.
So how can you keep hospital mix-ups from happening to YOUR family?
1. Clear Identification
Make sure that you and your family members have clear identification on them at all times, especially when away from home or on a long drive, like Abby and Marlena’s trip from California to Arizona.  We don’t know what shape the girl’s clothes or jewelry were in after the accident, but if even one of the girls had been wearing a Medic-Alert type ID bracelet, had an ICE Contact on their phones or had emergency wallet cards in their pockets or in a Shoewallet, proper identification wouldn’t have been a problem.
2. Questioning Authority
In a life or death situation, a family tends to believe what they’ve just been told.  That’s probably a very useful defense mechanism to help the mind deal with tragic news.  But in a situation like this, with victims who looked similar, someone in the family should have started asking questions.  As traumatized as the family is, they shouldn’t just blindly believe what they’re told, just because the person talking to them is wearing a white coat.  In fact one report said that the parents weren’t allowed to see the girl who had died.  If that’s true, that’s tragic.  Visually identifying a loved one is the right of every family, no matter how difficult it might be, and could have easily cleared up the mixup.  If the parents can’t physically bring themselves to make an ID (totally understandable) then a trusted relative, aunt, uncle, grandparent, should have been allowed to do it.
3. Detailing Identifying Traits.
When you update the medical histories of your immediate family members…  You do have emergency forms filled out for each family member, right?  If not, go read our blog post about how to create your Medical History Forms for your family ASAP!     Once they’re complete, make sure that you include a detailed list of everyone’s identifying traits.  Did any of them break a bone, have a surgery?  Do they have birthmarks, or identifying scars?  Eye color, height, blood type, anything that would help doctors quickly identify your loved one.  If the unthinkable ever happens, take that list to the physician in charge, or if need be, to the patient advocate or the hospital administrator and make them prove to you that the patient they’re talking about is actually your loved one.
Remember what we said earlier about Abby and Marlena’s case?  One girl was two inches taller, had had her appendix removed and one had had her wisdom teeth removed.  No matter how badly injured and swollen the surviving girl was, at least one if not all of these traits would be easily confirmed, if someone would have taken the time to do it.  They could have measured the bodies with a measuring tape, done a quick dental exam to find wisdom teeth or even ultrasound the abdomen of the surviving girl and see if she had or did not have an appendix.
When it comes to YOUR family, it’s up to you to be their advocate.  Don’t leave their care and safekeeping up to the hospital.  Just because they’re in charge, doesn’t mean they’re always right.
And while you’re here, check out our newest program/book The Backup Plan 3.0 where you’ll find even more tips, action plans and resources.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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Introducing… Connected

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More Amazing Things You Can Do In 5 Minutes Or Less
How To Download and Back Up Your Digital Photos
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Connected | The Book Inspired By The Blog.

Connected | Saving Lives & Connecting Families One Smartphone @ A Time. rnn10.wordpress.com

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How To Fill Out Your Child’s Emergency Contact Card

In the days after September 11th, two thousand, one hundred children were left stranded in daycare.

Why?
Because their parents didn’t fill out one of the fields on their daycare emergency contact cards.
 “Who should we contact if you are not able to pick up your child?”
How could something so basic, strand two thousand children on one of the scariest days in American history?
Fear
The inability or refusal to take two minutes to think through what might happen, if they and their spouse were unable to reach their child.  The ridiculous thing is, it doesn’t even have to take a real emergency for this to happen.  You could be stuck on the freeway, or trapped in an airplane you were certain would arrive on time.

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So take a few moments to think about it.  And please, please don’t just jot down the first name that pops into your head!
Imagine that you have an accident or get in the middle of a transportation nightmare and you and your spouse are unable to pick up your child from school that afternoon.  Or for two or three days.  Who would you want taking care of him?
You need someone who knows your child extremely well.  Someone who would be able to calm her down and would have the energy to care for her.  Someone who knows what she likes and dislikes.  And, in case of extreme emergency like September 11th, it would really help to have someone with the ability, brains and fortitude to help locate you or your spouse, if overburdened emergency personnel weren’t able to help.
That’s the kind of thought you need to put into emergency planning, especially where your children are concerned.

Medical History

Now what about your child’s medical history?  Some schools or day care centers don’t even provide a card for medical history, or the one they provide might be so sparse that it would be useless in a true medical emergency.  Don’t forget that you can simply create your own medical history card and see that it’s stored with your child’s records.  That way you can be sure that the information you would want emergency personnel to have in an emergency, will be right at their fingertips.
If you have a copy of our book Ready, you’ll find Medical History Forms for you and your kids in the back of the book.  If not, you can download a copy of our Children’s Medical Form here.

So grab your form and let’s get started.

Before you begin filling in the form get a piece of paper and gather everything you have for each child on his or her own sheet.  You’ll need to include a list of chronic conditions, allergies, medications and vitamins that they have or currently are taking along with dosage.  Include a list of all of your child’s health providers including specialists, dentists and any other professional who sees your child on a regular basis.
Now take a moment to sit by yourself in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.   Close your eyes and imagine each of your children individually, with a moderate injury, like a broken ankle.  You’re sitting in the emergency room with him.
The doctor – someone you’ve never seen before and who doesn’t know your child’s unique medical or emotional needs – walks through the door.  What would you tell the doctor about your them?  What do you need her to know?
Child by child, jot down all of the things that just went through your mind.  Old injuries, allergies, surgeries, anything you think is important.   Then do the exercise again, imagining that this had been a serious injury.  Is there anything else that you would need to tell the doctor or surgeon caring for your child?  Anything that might help save his or her life?
Again, jot down any additional things that went through your mind for each of your children.
At the end of our forms, we include a few other questions about your child.   Things that a nurse or physician might need to know to help calm your child down while treating her, until you’re able to be at the hospital   So include a brief section on your child’s likes and dislikes, what calms her down, favorite foods or toys or anything else that might help.   No matter how old your child is, kids tend to regress a bit when they’re hurting or frightened, so the information you provide here can go a long way towards keeping them calm and helping the medical team give them the treatment they need until you arrive at the hospital.
Since children don’t carry wallets or driver’s licenses, make sure that they have ID cards with current emergency contact information in a few different locations, like in a backpack or tucked into a cell phone or an iPod Touch.   And don’t forget to put an ICE Contact (in case of emergency contact) to your children’s iPhones or smartphones.  You can find out how to do that right here on our blog.
Taking the steps to ensure your child’s information now, will help keep him safer while giving you a little more peace of mind.  Talk about a win-win!

Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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