Doctors’ bungling could land you in hospital 36



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An extensive study of national hospital admissions has found that a whopping 25 per cent of  hospitalisations of over-60s could be caused by patients not receiving appropriate care for a wide range of health conditions – and it’s costing us $300 million a year.

Dr Gillian Caughey and colleagues from the University of South Australia and the BUPA Health Foundation  assessed the prevalence of “suboptimal medication-related processes of care” for 83 430 older patients admitted to hospital.

They concluded that 25.2 per cent of cases had been poorly managed before the incident that put them in hospital, by not receiving the right medication or using it in the wrong way.

Of those hospitalised for fractures following a fall, 85.4 per cent were patients aged 65 years or older who had been prescribed a falls-risk medicine before admission – 19.7 per cent and 17.2 per cent of fracture hospitalisationswere for men and women, respectively,  who had a history of osteoporosis but had not received medication for it.

“Seventeen per cent of patients hospitalised for chronic heart failure “had not been dispensed an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) in the 3 months before admission”, the authors wrote.

“About one in 10 admissions for renal (kidney) failure occurred in patients with a history of diabetes who had not received a renal function test in the year before admission and were not dispensed an ACEI or ARB.”

The researchers developed a new set of indicators they believe can be used to help reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes.

“Failure to implement appropriate patterns of care suggests that an opportunity to improve health care outcomes is being missed,” they wrote.

The research was published in the Medical Journal of Australia, and used data from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs from between July 2007 and June 2012.

Have you ever wound up in hospital only to discover you should have been on a certain medication that could have prevented the incident? We want to hear from you!

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  1. That is a very high figure, I am lucky I have a good doctor, if anything he is too thorough. Makes you wonder how many deaths are through misdiagnosis

  2. I am going through that now with my husband. He wasn’t told that he was in Renal Failure till he had only 20% kidney function left, despite having bloods done every 3 months for diabetes. Now been told no point having dialysis so at 64 I have to watch him die. He might be just a patient to them but to me he is my world.

    3 REPLY
    • I know three people in their 70,s having renal dialysis, please get another opinion, does your husband see a renal specialist, so very sorry to hear this but 64 is not old

    • So sorry Christine!
      My bloods showed me with eGFR (basically kidney function %) of 50. Spoke to doc who referred me to specialist who said we don’t do anything until you are bad. I am a bit deaf so he actually wrote that on my note paper, so I did not mis-hear. For the next three years I ate only my RDI (recommended daily intake) of phosphorus, potassium, protein and sodium for my size and age. I weighed and calculated everything that went into my mouth and kept a daily record on an excel spreadsheet. My theory was that if I only ate what my body needed to function, there would be no excess for my kidneys to excrete – which they were not able to do satisfactorily. I got my eGFR back up to 73% function and have kept it there for years since and am now almost 67. Preventative medicine is the way to go. If I had not done anything, at the rate my kidney function had been declining, it would have only been 14 months (at the same rate) that I would have needed dialysis. But it seems no-one in positions want to know!

  3. My doctor seems to be pretty thorough but only because I had a wonderful doctor previously who told me to ask lots of questions and push for answers. My problem was the care IN hospital. It was appalling with medication mistakes made which left my immune system down causing other illnesses.

  4. Its discusting how there is so many cases of failure of duty of care.I could tell a few storys.ive lost family members and recently lost my Mum nearly 3weeks ago.Nothing done after being at the Dr.til the end and it was to late.We lost her and its so hard grieving and trying to deal with anger too.I.m getting rid of my Doctor before I end up gone.The care factor isnt there all he wants is the $, s.Very rarely I get my 10min. Its 2min.out of ten and ya get see you.

  5. My father was diagnosed at 57 with IBS which turned out to be cancer and he died within a month. It is simply just not good enough.

  6. Yes l have been hospitalized due to a medication bungle by my then GP. In 2005 l became ill with a viral infection. Such was the results of pathology that l was asked to present to our Base Hospitial immediately. I would spend almost a week in hospital and the virus l had was never identified , despite countless pathology tests . Anyway that should have been the end if it. However on a follow up checkup with my GP, he read the wrong pathology report and prescribed further steriods . I was already on a number of medication. Long story short I went to stay with a friend and it was clear to her and me that my body and mind were in overdrive. A trip to another GP resulting in Stillnox being prescribed to help me sleep. So now we have scripts for Steriods, Panadiene Fort, Stillnox , Bruefin, and a number of other medications. My best friend took me to hospital l started exhibiting large red blotches, mania, and an inability to sleep despite the stillnox and other medications. I was clearly out of control and close to a major problem with a toxic overload of prescription medications. I was hospitalized and all medication removed. It took months for me to recover, and sadly some of the things which occurred during this time, l still live with. If only my GP had read the latest pathology report , l would not have gone through the 3 week period from hell. Cheers

  7. 2 doctors told me they couldn’t find anything on my chest ,when I was definitely not well,the young one said ( we will send you for a X-ray anyway) that saved my life ,I had pneumonia pretty bad

  8. I find doctors can be very complacent. Maybe nurses should do their training through the wards as they used to. Everytime I’ve been to the local hospital to visit all the nurses seem to be huddled around the computer at the desk.

  9. I have an above navel hernia that I’ve had for well over two years . My Dr told me to were a hernia belt at times that can be aggravateing . I have had only one ultrasound at the beginning I know it has got bigger . Any suggestions ? Thanks

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  10. I’m surprised it’s 25%, thought it would be a lot more. After nearly two years here in Dunedin, I’ve finally found a brilliant Dr’s practice. All the Dr’s are excellent (including mine, and she’s an Aussie). But it was a mission, let me tell you. I did the rounds, went and did ‘spot’ visits to various practices, rang up most of the practices, some of the staff were appalling and the customer service was even worse. Last week I had to go back to my lovely Dr’s for a severe ear infection, so saw another Dr at the practice. Now they all know in a past life and for 10 years I was a paramedic, so I think this also helps i.e. having the medical knowledge. Anyway after an shocking night in pain the next day I rang the practice nurse for a chat. Starting getting better by about 5pm that night. Then the phone rang at 5.30pm it was the Dr on the phone, very concerned and offered more advice and assistance, and any drama’s over the weekend, pop back first thing Monday. Excellent treatment, brilliant after hours client care, 1st rate! So glad I was so persistent in finding good medico’s for my future medical treatments. Re hospital care here well I was visiting a friend in the Dunedin Public Hospital 2 weeks ago, she was well cared for, visitors were treated with contempt ( they rather you not be there) however it’s slightly better than the last hospital the Royal Darwin Hospital, and when I was living in Darwin we had a saying ‘when in pain, catch a plane’.

  11. Nobody seems to care anymore. It just seems to be about the $. Your Dr visit is in and out, they don’t take the time to listen. They just fob you off. They charge more and care less. I had a problem several years ago and they all but told me to stop imagining the pain, there was nothing wrong with my foot and I should go back to work. After a few months I still had pain and insisted on an X-ray. It showed that my foot had a broken bone! No apologies, don’t come to the surgery, I just got a phone call with the results.

  12. Most health professionals are doing the right thing….& a job not too many people want to do!
    I’ve encountered good & bad….just as l have in all walks of life.

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