Beware of Hospital Protocol: It Could Get You or a Loved One Killed

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Was it Hospital Protocol, Malpractice or Both?

(Chicago) We’ve always heard “get a second opinion,” when facing serious medical conditions and critical decisions, but no one ever mentions to find out the hospital’s protocol for a particular treatment or procedure.

“In a healthcare setting, a protocol, also called a medical guideline, is a set of instructions which describe a process to be followed to investigate a particular set of findings in a patient, or the method which should be followed to control a certain disease.”

Beware. If you are working with a doctor that ignores you or a loved one’s medical history and proceeds with a set of instructions as if everyone is made up the same, it could end with devastating results.

The forgoing example illustrates this point. A blood thinner is recommended for a patient, and after use the patient starts bleeding out (aka exsanguination). The doctors decide to adjust the patient’s dose and are still unsuccessful. Even when using variants of the same medication, the patient suffers catastrophic results. Patient’s family insists patient go to another hospital, even though the current one is supposed to be reputable and in high standing.

A situation arises whereas the patient could be rushed to another hospital with a very good reputation. Patient’s history is shared. The doctors are open-minded and listening. They prescribe a blood thinning drug that the first hospital no longer supported, and the results were remarkable. Patient no longer felt week, and hemorrhaging stopped. The plan from the second hospital is shared with the first hospital, and for months they continue to test the patient during checkups while the patient is still on the safe older blood thinner prescription.

Some months pass, and the patient is taken to the first hospital again for an unrelated injury, because they are still considered a renowned hospital in the US. The doctor says they have to administer a thinner to the patient, because after a checkup, they noticed some clots in the lungs. They ask family members before proceeding and are informed by the family that the patient cannot use the blood thinners they are using, and has been prescribed another that should be in their records. Doctor ignores family’s warning and administers the blood thinner their “protocol” calls for anyway. Patient ends up hemorrhaging and with an extended stay as a result of it.

The doctor exasperated an existing problem, by not acknowledging the cautionary information shared by the family prior to the procedure. Instead, the doctor opted for what she referred to as “hospital protocol” which in this doctor’s case superseded common sense and human compassion. Patient ended up with pneumonia while in the hospital and unfortunately, didn’t last a month afterwards.

When the doctor was asked by the family, “why would you administer a drug you were told historically had adverse results on patient’s health and not to use it, you did it anyway?” Doctor’s only response was, “that is ‘hospital protocol.”

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