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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Death By Medicine

Gary, Your quote,"The treatment was a success but the patient died" brings to mind my friend Tess who this applies to partly!
Her obitury would read "The treatment was NEVER a success AND the patient died.

From a 59 year old lady who was active, riding a bicycle, making beautiful craft work soft toys. designing and doing tapestries and knitting she over 5 years became a sad, depressed lady with overwhelming bad health.
She had gall bladder disease but the medical report was misplaced and after 6 mths of recurring attacks it was finally removed via key hole surgery. During that time, her attacks of disabling pain were managed with pethidine injections, which a Dr told me she became addicted to.
From then on things went wrong. Her legs became ulcerated and swollen as did face and neck. they said she had Cushings syndrome. she couldn't walk and became diabetic requiring daily insulin injections and finally died.
The treatment didn't seem to help so they just kept on adding to it.
During the last months of her life she was having 11 different medications daily (22tablets total)
and 10units of insulin daily.
Officially she died from Cushings.
Gary Moller comments:
I am sorry to hear of your friend's passing and can understand your concern with the treatment she received.

While she officially died of Cushings, every indication is that she really died from the consequences of medical bungling, the complications from surgery gone wrong and over medication.

Cushing's syndrome occurs when the body's tissues are exposed to excessive levels of cortisol for long periods of time. Many people suffer the symptoms of Cushing's syndrome because they take glucocorticoid hormones such as prednisone which she was taking large doses of over a protracted period of time.

Pancreatitis, leading to diabetes is a complication of keyhole surgery to remove the gall bladder. Such surgery should only be attempted by a specialist in the procedure.

The 12 medications that she was on is a nightmare of potential interactions and adverse reactions (I have seen the list).

Here in NZ it has been claimed that medical error, including adverse reactions to drugs, claims over 3,000 lives per year making this the 3rd leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. That the very distant 4th placeholder (Road smashes) gets so much attention while medical error receives so little, is a mystery to me and bordering on being downright scandalous.

With the ageing population and the increasing medicalisation of the healthy, I predict it will not be long before medical error becomes the leading cause of preventable death in the developed world.

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