Family Trying to Reduce Preventable Medical Errors After Tragedy
Anthony Sanzeri, NBC Right Now Website Manager - email
We are lucky to live in a nation with one of the most advanced medical systems on the planet.
Yet upwards of 500 Americans die every day from preventable medical errors and one family's tragedy has motivated them to prevent it from happening in the future.
Louise Batz was just 65 years old, a wife, mother, and getting ready to welcome her fourth grandchild into this world.
When she went in to have a routine knee replacement surgery.
"She did great. The doctor was very pleased with the new knee."
That night her daughter Laura Batz-Townsend says she and her dad were told the medication Louise was about receive.
"Morphine, Demerol, and Viserol. Two narcotics and a sedative, we thought that's a lot of medication."
The family asked she only receive Morphine if she needed it, but she was still given all three.
"By the time those drugs were given to my mom and nobody was there and there was no monitoring of my mom and we weren't there a catastrophe happened."
At 3:15 am the hospital called ...
"She was lifeless, I thought she had already died. I had just left her, told her a loved her, and she was fine"
Louise Batz was revived, but died 11 days later.
"She was my hero. She was my best friend."
The family channeled it's grief into learning what happened.
"We very quickly realized my mother had suffered from a preventable medical error."
Too much pain medication caused her mother to stop breathing
"We looked into how often does this happen and is it on an isolated basis? We found out it happens a lot." says Dr. Charles Holhouser, Louise's brother.
"One study found as many as 550 people die everyday in the U.S. from preventable medical errors. It's staggering. The night after her death Louise's family wrote out a mission statement for a foundation in her honor."
That mission, better communication between doctor's, nurses, hospitals and the patient and their family.
"We asked a thousand questions. We didn't get lucky and ask the right one."
With five doctors in the family, they thought their odds would have been better...
A little more than a year ago Louise's family published the Batz guide, an educational tool to help you ask the right questions.
Dr. Ken Davis, Chief Medical Officer for Methodist Health System says "You know patient safety is really a team sport. It's doctors, nurses but also families and patients need be included"
"The evidence is indisputable that if you engage patients and family outcomes are better." states Patti Toney, a nurse.
That guide will be available through I-tunes as an app next month, but you can download a hard copy of the Batz Guide right now.
It's simple to use, yet can be life altering.
"I always say if I had this Batz Guide with me if I could go back in time my mom would be alive."