Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Medical Awareness

A long time ago I handled media relations for an international medical society. At the time, one of my favorite media catch phrases was "you are in charge of your health care." I always told people that no matter what the doctor or nurse said, you were in charge. I transferred that philosphy from my work to our children when the twins were born. The girls were both more than 6 lbs, so they didn't have to stay in the hospital more than the standard 48 hours. Yet, I watched every single thing that was done to them during that time. I drove the nurses crazy. Why was one of the girls taken from the nursery? Who authorized that test? What were the test results? What do those results mean?

To this day, I still hover over their doctors and nurses. It's not that I don't trust them, but mistakes happen. We changed pedatricians because that office had two girls with the same name. The nurses would bring in two charts. One for our brunette twin and one for the other girl. I'd question how it could happen since the other girl was nearly a year younger than our twins, had a different address, and different parents. None of her vital information was even close to our girls! The nurses always brushed me off. The office staff could not keep the records straight. The final blow came when they started billing us for the other girls' office visits. I not only changed pediatricians, but I filed complaints with our health insurance.

I had a chill when I heard about Dennis Quaid's twins. It's so scary to have newborns anyway, but somehow it always seemed safe to put them in the hands of medical professionals. Do I think the error was intentional? No. I think it was just human error. What I do know, though, is that until our daughters are old enough to take on the job themselves, we are in charge of their health care. It's one of the scariest parts of parenting.

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