Thursday, August 28, 2003

Internal Affairs

After lunch today, I bumped into one of the guys I used to hang out with in Malate. It was such a delight to see him again after so long. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, I asked him about his mom, who had recently been operated on – one of her thyroid glands was infected and needed to be removed.

I was stunned at his news. The doctors had mistakenly removed the uninfected gland, leaving the infected one all snug and secure in his mom’s neck area. Realizing their mistake, the doctors had her take appropriate medication for some time before a scheduled radiation treatment.

On the day of the treatment, another surprise sprung from the box. The folks who were supposed to administer the radiation treatment had the session postponed. The reason: my friend’s mother wasn’t supposed to take the aforementioned medication because it would nullify the benefits of the treatment.

This "case of mistaken thyroid identity" illustrates one of the higher heights of irresponsibility in the medical profession. While I’d like to believe that the mistakes were not intentional (which is why they’re called ‘mistakes’), they’re downright alarming and unforgiveable. And what kind of compensation, or even comfort, can counter the poor woman’s trauma from the injustice done to her body? My friend couldn’t begin to answer that question.

Coincidentally, while I was en route to work this morning, DZMM was talking about a congressional hearing on the subject of medical malpractice, implying that there’s no clear legislation on the matter. (Though, I hope someone in-the-know can correct me.)

Human error can be such a bitch when the error is irreparable and the victim happens to be you. But eventually, all we can do is continue to trust our doctors, our nurses, our surgeons, etc. that they'll do a spiffy job at making us better, and forgive them one day when they botch up. We can only hope to our gods that we or our loved ones don't end up as part of this unlucky statistic.

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