When Healthcare Becomes Unhealthy
The Wrong Medication Sent Me To The ER Twice
Our healthcare system is seriously overtaxed, anyone who has ever had a medical emergency during this time (regardless of your beliefs on this *situation) knows what an understatement this is. Sadly, what has happened is that the standard of care is also being jeopardized. The first rule of medicine is “Do no harm” and when in a state of crisis or providers are often forced to get ’em in, get ’em out and many walking wounded (still breathing, not bleeding, not dying, sorry, I don’t take that lightly, just making an observation) are being sent out the door without really proper diagnosis or taking the time to really find out what is going on.
Without getting into too much detail, I started having heart issues that seemingly had no explanation, fluctuating blood pressure, palpitations, and then later said issue would cause me to crash. To put it in layman’s terms it overtaxed my heart and landed me in the ER twice. I was unable to see my primary care physician due to the said crisis currently happening, appointments were months out with no other doctors to see. This was ongoing for several weeks in a row. It was trial and error, tests, EKGs, with nothing being determined. I have a medical background as a former EMT/Nursing school attendee, I was licensed, but it has been a good long time and I’ve managed my own healthcare, again, to put it bluntly, the only thing I can’t do is write my own prescriptions, but I can read charts, know my blood levels, and pretty much can determine what needs to be done before a doctor ever looks at me. A cardiologist, an ER doc, a regular physician all were unable to diagnose what was going on. I began putting things together, when I had my last blood test, and what meds I was taking ( I only take 2, so it was pretty easy) I had heard that too much thyroid medication would cause the opposite effect, and I thought I would test it by cutting my medication in half. Low and behold, for the first time in three weeks, I slept through the night without heart issues and I woke up refreshed and with no symptoms. Turns out I saved my own life and health. My medication had been substituted with another brand, a generic for a generic and it wasn’t working, and/or I had a severe allergic reaction to it. I was forced to go to urgent care and was fortunate enough to get a female doctor who knew exactly what the problem was. The pharmacy substituted my meds for something else and the mistake almost killed me. My medical charts were easily accessible by the hospital staff, and by the doctors who treated me, they could have easily accessed what happened, I was switched without the pharmacist asking if it was okay or being informed. When I went to the pharmacy in question, they took no accountability for what happened. I could very well understand if the hospital and doctors were under a different medical group, but they were all within the very same provider. Even with a record of my blood pressure that I kept over the course of weeks so that the doctors could note what was happening, no one caught it.
Now, I agree, I was playing “House” but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be standing here right now. Yes, there is such a thing as informed consent, I was neither informed nor consented. This is what happens when care slips through the cracks. Especially when a potential heart issue deems the patient to sit on a gurney for an extended period of time in a hallway because there are no exam rooms or beds available in the ER or a 71/2 hour wait before you can even be seen by someone, and if something should happen in the meantime, well, too bad. This is not acceptable. Yes, I didn’t drop dead on the floor, but sending me out the door without proper care, especially while still dealing with symptoms is negligible. This WILL never happen again.
What would you do? Even after contacting a clinical pharmacist as recommended, they could not determine why a certain well-known pharmacy chose to switch my prescription, there are risks to doing that and unfortunately, I was one of the people who reacted badly to the change. What recourse does a patient have? I am attempting to get a DAW (dispense as written) so that a pharmacy cannot fill without notifying me or my doctor beforehand if there are changes. The next error or change could be far worse if this is not handled.
If I wasn’t somewhat educated on managing my own disease this could have ended badly. I fear for the next person this happens to. I was lucky, but I’m having to start from scratch on handling Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, the nodes in the throat, when my levels were under control very well until an uncaring medical provider messed up. My thyroid is enlarged again. I do not have the time to run between doctors and going to get an ultrasound again. I shouldn’t have to go through all of this once more when I was on a great course to take care of this. I was healthy and doing great. Now, I have perhaps another six months to fix what the healthcare system broke.
There should be a state board to report this to, but even after calling my insurance company to let them know what happened, there is an air of uncaringness. If they don’t care and they are the ones paying for a portion of this, then who will? This was a huge mistake and certainly lowers my opinion of doctors here, even though I know they are trying. This was a big oops.
“Do no harm” indeed.