Posted by Gary Schwitzer in Health care journalism
Bill Heisel, who is one of our story reviewers on HealthNewsReview.org, writes on the Reporting on Health blog, “Serious Complications: What Andy Rooney Might Say About His Death.” He reposts what another writer wrote about the CBS journalist’s death – in his voice. Excerpts:
“I died last week, just a month after I said goodbye to you all from this very desk. I had a long and happy life – well, as happy as a cranky old guy could ever be. 92. Not bad. And gotta say, seeing my Margie, and Walter, and all my old friends again is great.
But then I read what killed me: “serious complications following minor surgery.”
Now what the heck is that?
Remember a guy named John Murtha? A Congressman. Democrat from Pennsylvania. He made it to 77, a real spring chicken next to me. We were talking about this the other day, and guess what he told me? He went in the hospital last year to get his gallbladder taken out. A tiny incision, they said. Laparoscopic surgery. Only he died, too. The reason? You guessed it: “complications of surgery.” The docs looked really sad about it, but they wouldn’t give out any details. They said they couldn’t, because of family privacy and federal privacy laws. But you know, people talk. Someone on the inside came out with it: “they hit his intestines.”
John figures it’s better that people know what happened. Maybe it’ll help docs figure out a way not to hit intestines when they do that surgery next time. Now what’s wrong with that?”
Bill – and the hospital patient advocate and former medical reporter who wrote the original piece – make a point about patient safety and how journalists should ask more questions. Read the entire piece.