Lessons learned


One of the things that is done in companies is to evaluate projects to discover the “lessons learned”. I have learned that it is not possible for me to keep up two blogs and I had to let my english blog lay dormant for a (long) whilee. I do apologize to my english speaking friends and colleagues and I hope to make it up to you by writing an occasional post in English, albeit not as often as the original blog.
It has been 4 years now since my stroke. There are definately some lessons to be learned here.
– Keep up with the medical information you need to know to recognize serious illnesses. I use the site of dr. Weil and dr. Christiane Northrup as important sources of information, together with a big book of medical information for the family to determine whether you have something serious and what you can do about it. A book is always available, not dependent on internet, and has checklists and pictures to show you what to do. Other programs may be of interest  as well. In this program is the role and risk of pre-eclampsia discussed; if the doctors’ post had taken that into account they would have searched for stroke clues sooner. A book is always available, not dependent on internet, and has checklists and pictures to show you what to do.
– Make sure you have a copy of your medication and medical history updated and with you. It is difficult to remember when you arrive at the hospital what you had and when and what they gave you for it.
– Make sure there is someone with you who can drive you to the doctor or to the hospital. This someone is also the one to record the actions being taken, and meds being given. It is not natural in every hospital to give the patient a clear insight in what is recommended and given to you.
– Make sure you get a paper copy of everything they write about you.
– Check your patient file or have it checked and ask a copy
– Inform your GP yourself or have someone inform them. Information does not always reach your GP.
– Give your pharmacist permission to share data with the hospital about medication.
– Have someone check whether all information is correct and whether it has reached the correct persons. This is NOT a given, many mistakes are still made everyday.
– Have someone check alternative treatments of what you have. Sometimes you are not told all the options.
– Once you are out of the first critical phase, sit down with your GP and evaluate what went well and what could be improved. Also agree on a course of action for the future. I see my doctor every 3-4 months for a bloodpressure check and I gather all non urgent questions for that appointment.
– Do not wait to go to your GP when you feel something is wrong. It is better to be treated by your GP then by an emergency room doctor who does not know you.
– Accept that mistakes can happen and move on with your life. Mistakes were made in my case, but there is no use spoiling my life and that of my family by moaning around. Nobody gets better from that. Be kind to doctors who acknowledge a mistake has been made. Be tenacious to doctors who do not acknowledge there has been made a mistake and make sure it is not sent to “the large organization”
– Do all that you can to make sure mistakes are prevented and lessons learned. Share your story. Write a blog. Go to the media if you have the energy for it. Advise others on how to treat a patient.

And don’t forget to enjoy the fact that you are alive. Life can be over before you know it , so it is best to enjoy every minute!


Cardiology and the ECG (electrocardiogram)


There is a fresh baker with a thriving business in the town I live in. He bakes an assortment of delicious, wonderful things. At times, when the queue management system broke down, chaos reined at his establishment. When I saw how the queue management system was run in Cardiology, I was reminded of my home-town bakery during a chaotic episode.

Numerous patients had to go to the Cardiology department to have their heart checked since that organ was involved in most diseases. It’s natural to assume that a substantial number of those people would arrive in a wheelchair. I expected a state-of-the-art system that would manage the walking and wheelchair-bound patients at the same time. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

When we entered the hospital, we had to take a lift. There were six elevators spread out over a short distance, and it was a game to see which door would open first. As one slid open, my husband had to practically sprint to push me and my wheelchair into the elevator before the door closed.

We ascended to the Cardiology department and rolled to a stop at the counter in the reception area. My nose barely cleared the counter due to its height, which was not really a good start for equal communication. I was given a number and instructed to move on to the waiting room.

The waiting room was way too overcrowded to allow me to maneuver with my wheelchair. I was the only wheelchair-bound patient at present, but what if more showed up? Through a little force, my husband was able to create a space for me at the end of the line; although, it prevented anyone from getting past me. After a short while, I was asked to move along, but where could I go when I was hemmed in like I was?

Eventually, my number showed up on the electronic board. A beaming nurse dodged through the crowd to collect me.

“Hello,” she said. “My name is Blonde. Jane Blonde.”

Jane Blonde came to collect us for the ECG (ElectroCardioGram). She escorted us to a row of tiny cubicles which were set aside for the ECG patients as a changing area. Today, I was the only patient there.

Jane pointed at one of the cubicles and said, “please undress your upper body and lie on the bed. I’ll be with you shortly.”

A couple of minor details seemed to have escaped Jane’s awareness. First, my modestly proportioned wheelchair could not fit into any of the cubicles. Second, my entire left side was paralyzed and could not walk, much less undress and lie down.

Hubbie had to drag me onto the narrow table. Afterward, my left leg and hand fell off. Hubbie tucked both back onto the table, and I laid on my arm to ensure it stayed put.

Jane squeezed herself between my husband and the computer, blocking the screen from my view.

“What’s your name again?” Jane asked. As I told her, she typed it into the computer.

Suction cups were stuck to various parts of my upper body, and Jane asked me to relax and stay calm. Once the reading was complete, a printout was made from the ECG.

Mrs. Blonde continued to be oblivious and said, “you may dress yourself and get off the bed now.” My paralysis hadn’t vanished in the last thirty minutes, so I had to rely once again on Hubbie to dress me and get me back into my wheelchair.

Jane gave me a copy of the ECG printout … which had the wrong name on it. Apparently, Jane incorrectly typed my name wrong into the system. When we pointed this out to her, she responded cheerily, “oh, you can tell it to administration.”

The administration officer seemed shocked by the name error on the ECG printout. She ended up erasing my misspelt name with some white-out and wrote the correct spelling over top with a ballpoint pen.

“Please give this to the cardiologist,” she instructed, then handed it back to me.

This was the only aspect of the ordeal I had confidence would go right — I could trust myself to deliver the ECG printout in its correct state to the cardiologist. But suppose I had something to gain by changing some data? A little white-out and a ballpoint pen would suffice.