Asking Questions in the Hospital

My friend has a son who is battling cancer, and she often posts updates for friends and family. She shared 1 experience this week about her son being given the wrong medicine.

She noticed her son was having some unusual symptoms, which made her realize something was wrong. She checked his meds and figured out that he had been given the wrong medicine. She called the doctor, who quickly fixed the problem. But not before her son had some horrendous side effects.

I really felt for her. She has been in the hospital for a month with her son and is exhausted from constantly watching over him. He is too sick to do much for himself, so she is his safeguard.

It reminded me of one of the times my daughter was in the hospital for asthma and pneumonia (not nearly as bad as having a child with cancer – I know.) But we also had an experience where my daughter was given the wrong medication.

A mistake: Wrong medication dose during asthma treatment

The respiratory therapist was giving my daughter a breathing treatment, and I noticed her heart rate was very high. In fact, the heart rate alarm started going off on her equipment. I paged the nurse, who said not to worry about it because people often have a racing heart during or after a breathing treatment.

I told her that we were not new to the world of asthma, and she had not reacted like that before. I KNEW something was wrong. It took a while, but we figured out the young, new respiratory therapist had given my small daughter the adult dose of albuterol for her breathing treatment.

No wonder the heart monitor was going off! She had been given too high a dose of albuterol.

While all of this was going on, the respiratory therapist had conveniently disappeared.

I was so focused on getting my daughter’s heart rate down that I could not chase down the respiratory therapist and talk to him about what happened.

I know that the hospital staff is not perfect (I am not either!) But I wanted to talk to him about it to make sure it did not happen to anyone else. My daughter’s heart is healthy – but what if the respiratory therapist gave the wrong dose to someone who did not have a healthy heart and could not handle the extra medicine?

It is okay to ask questions

After that, I would grill EVERYONE who came into my daughter’s hospital room. What are you doing? What medication are you giving my daughter? What is it for? What dose are you giving her? Is it the child’s dose or the adult's dose?

I know it must have been annoying, but it is my job as a mom to protect my daughter. I know hospital staff work long hours, and mistakes can happen. I do not blame them. In fact, many of my friends are in the medical field, and I know how short-staffed hospitals are and people are doing the best they can.

I need to be the safeguard to ensure there are no other medication mistakes for my daughter. My husband and I would take turns staying at the hospital to keep an eye on her and her meds. Just like the hospital staff, I would take 12-hour shifts at her bedside, then my husband would come to the hospital, sit with her, and tell her dad jokes. Then I would go home and take care of our other 2 kids.

If you have a family member in the hospital, do not be embarrassed to ask questions about their care. It is safer for the staff and for your loved one!

Has anyone else had a medication error with a family member? Were you able to help prevent it from happening again? Do you ask questions about medicines and care when you are in the hospital for your asthma?

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