It’s been more than 28 years since that medical negligence that changed the life of Pelaprina Sanchez-Carorasan, 88, widowed, and a native of San Nicolas, Pangasinan.
Then 60-year-old Nanay Pelaprina knew something wasn’t right days after she left the hospital for a cyst removal in her hip area. She recalled that after surgery and even after finding out from the biopsy results that her cyst was benign, instead of recovery, her condition worsened.
She started feeling unwell, was in constant pain, and her hip area grew swollen. She tried seeking the help of different doctors, even a “quack” doctor, but they all failed to explain and find a cure for her lingering illness.
Years that followed, Nanay Pelaprina’s surgical wound remained open, became watery and infected that left her bedridden for years.
It took her 10 years to feel a strange, itchy object in her hip area. When she scratched it, she felt an unidentified object, so she slowly pulled it out. She then discovered a piece of rotten gauze coming out from the wound area.
“I decided to go to the hospital to show the gauze and upon the doctor’s advice, I tried to locate the doctor who performed my cyst removal to formally sue him. But after confrontation, he denied his hand on it and insisted that he cannot be blamed for something that had happened 10 years ago as there might have been other factors that affected or caused my condition,” said Nanay Pelaprina.
With the grace of God, Pelaprina has managed to stay well and healthy and has even traveled to Australia countless times. She has also visited different places within the country and hopes to live longer to be with his children and grandchildren.
Medical negligence, errors
The World Alliance for Patient Safety in 2015 reported that there are 63 million traumatic surgeries, 10 million pregnancy-related surgeries, and 31 million major surgeries being performed worldwide annually.
Apparently, complications after in-patient operations occur in up to 25 percent, the crude mortality rate after major surgery is 0.5 to 5 percent, and in industrialized countries, nearly half of all adverse lists in hospitalized patients are related to surgical care.
“When we are talking about surgical safety, it is really the continuum that starts even before the patient enters the hospital. It starts with the first time you see a patient in the clinic, and it will end until the patient has fully recovered and has visited you for the last time,” said medical doctor Alejandro Dizon in an article.
Transparency is key
“Bottomline is transparency. Because in the end, knowing that it is happening, [then] we have to do something about it. It all boils down to culture. That’s part of the culture – a culture of reporting, a culture that encourages one to be brave enough to share,” Dizon said, who shared an incident where they commended a nurse for his admission of a medical error.
The nurse discovered on his own that he mistakenly gave a patient a multiple-dose. He admitted his error in tears, but instead of being punished, he was commended for being honest about it, at least they can still do something about it. Luckily, the patient was left unharmed.
“It is not easy to admit when things go wrong. But with that approach, we were able to minimize litigations. Sometimes, we have to settle because it’s our fault. But rather than having a long-dragging case in court, 10 years is too short, we are more proactive. But then it is easier said than done. It’s not that easy,” Dizon said.
He revealed that their hospital policy is disclosure, but there’s a way of doing it. There should be a sit-down discussion with the patient to let them know, and it should involve the top leadership, particularly the medical director. He also recommends the use of a checklist to ensure patient safety.