I am not having a go at anyone, really, I am just making you aware that there could be more than meets the eye when a doctor tells you your results are back and there is bad news. You sit there with your jaws wide open, in shock with thousands of images and words running through your head, images of your family and friends your life from birth. “What bad news?” You ask.
The doctor looks at you, takes off his thin rimmed glasses, places them on his desk and looks at you with his professional sad face, “Mr Newman, I am sorry to say it is terminal”.
Now you may think that Mr Newman would accept it walk out the door and tell his family the bad news, and yes 99.9% of you would. But not Mr Newman, no, he was curious, overly curious and in doing so realised that the doctor made a major mistake.
What Mr Newman did was something you and I would not have done and from now on if I ever get a contradictory result I will be doing exactly what he did, and that was to look closely at what the doctor was reading; the report.
But it wasn’t the results that caught Mr Newman’s attention, no, it was the name on the report, which even though the folder the report was in was his, the report wasn’t. He quickly made it clear to the doctor that the report he just verbalised was for another Mr Newman with a different first name.
So, what happened? How can someone within our very modern medically advanced hospitals get it so wrong? Well same could be said about the current crises at Northam Hospital or at Peel Hospital, or even Royal Perth Hospital. Now, some of these issues are due to administration and some due to serious and life threatening under budgeting by a poltically motivated state government, (surplus is a vote winner) but I question the doctor’s inability to add the extra spot check to ensure he has the right report or for that matter the right patient.
You may think that this story is not real or exaggerated, well the fact of the matter is, Mr Newman does exist, both do and both have potentially life threatening cancer, with one having gone through Kemo and drugs. The report was not bad in fact it was a thumbs up for Mr Newman, for either Mr Newmans, however, imagine the devastation felt by the healthy patient if he was told he was terminally ill? Or if the actual terminally ill patient was told he was fine but in fact was going to die.
Human error happens in hospitals, we all know that, that’s why there is tax payer’s paid insurance to protect hospitals from going bust from negligence. But what we don’t happen to do is question what we are told and Mr Newman has made it clear to me; don’t presume the doctor is always right and read the report yourself and look at the name attached to that report, it may avoid the difficulties such a scenario may bring to you.