June 15, 2012
Helen Haskell

Helen Haskell

Since the CDC released its latest and, at 14,000 the highest, annual estimate of the number of people killed by clostridium difficile infections, numbers have been on my mind a lot. In future posts I will address in more depth why I doubt the accuracy of even this extraordinary number of lives lost. Suffice it to say for the moment that i suspect this number is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lives lost.

For now, I want to turn your attention to an article from my fellow patient advocate, Helen Haskell. Helen found her way into patient advocacy following the death of 12-year-old son, Lewis, from numerous medical errors. I met Helen through the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project last fall.

In person, she’s a very unassuming woman from South Carolina with a slight accent and quiet (at least by New York standards) speaking voice. But that persona belies her incredible passion and a activist spirit. Since Lewis’ death, Helen has founded Mothers Against Medical Error, lobbied to pass patient safety legislation in South Carolina and succeeded in passing the Lewis Blackman Hospital Safety Act in memory of her son.

Helen’s piece is an important call for more widespread studies of the scale and variety of patient harm and death.

Please read and share it.

How We Err When Counting the Casualties of Medical Care

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