Dr. Itzhak Brook found out, firsthand, the challenges some patients are faced with, during hospital stays, when he found himself on the opposite side of the spectrum, in regards to physician services. And the experience had humbled him so much that he advocates patients’ rights.
The article, “A Physician’s Experience as a Cancer of the Neck Patient: The Importance of Patient Participation,” published in the April 18 edition of Journal of Participatory Medicine, illustrates medical errors that occurred during this doctor-turned-patient’s hospital stay, while undergoing treatment for neck cancer.
The most significant medical error that could have gravely endangered Brook, was when medical staff began to fed him by mouth a week too early. Even worse, when he inquired about the method of feeding, it continued for 16 hours, until a senior physician got involved.
Brook also fell victim to errors that included: Medical staff not washing hands or using gloves when indicated; taking oral temperature without placing the thermometer in a plastic sheath; using an inappropriately sized blood pressure cuff; attempting to administer medications by mouth instead of by nasogastric tube; and delivering an incorrect medication dose.
All of these events made me realize that a hospital is not a safe place for patients,” said Brook. “Most patients lack medical education and thus may not recognize, let alone feel that they are able to prevent errors in their care. My experiences taught me that a dedicated patient advocate such as a family member or a friend is desirable for all hospitalized patients.
“There is a great need for better medical training, greater vigilance, and increased supervision and communication between health care providers and their patients. It is my hope that this will occur and will undoubtedly contribute to the reduction of errors in patient care and, thus, lead to a safer environment.”
Dr. Brook understands how a patient feels and is more sensitive to their needs during treatment, because he was a patient. Today, through his story, he actively educates people on the importance of patient care.