Bad Medicine

If you can't trust your doctor, who can you trust? (Brain and Spine Institute of California)

If you can’t trust your doctor, who can you trust? (Brain and Spine Institute of California)

Despite choosing a career in higher education, most of my family members opted for professions in the healthcare industry. My dad was a surgeon and had a practice with my uncle, who is still operating today; my mother and aunt are both registered nurses; my sister works in health information; and my brother is a physical therapist.

Some might label me as the black sheep of the family for choosing a field other than medicine, but what can you do? We aren’t all cut out to be doctors, dentists and nurses, after all. Given my medical “background,” though, I have always been a strong supporter of modern medicine. Granted, it isn’t perfect—and don’t get me started about the Obamacare debacle—but it’s the best system we have.

Holistic healers and health-food gurus might disagree, but you can’t please everyone.

Of course, some recent health news has me very concerned, especially since I have a six-year-old son (who is currently battling the flu, I’m sorry to say). Consider the well-publicized case of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, for instance.

On December 9th, Jahi was admitted to the Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, California for what should have been routine surgery. She was scheduled to have her tonsils and adenoids removed, along with some additional sinus tissue. Everything seemed to go according to plan and Jahi even awoke from surgery to ask her mother for a popsicle. A short time later, though, things took a disturbing turn.

Jahi McMath (McMath family)

Jahi McMath (McMath family)

Without warning, Jahi began bleeding from her nose and mouth before going into full cardiac arrest. She was rushed to the hospital, but doctors soon declared her brain-dead, which set off a legal struggle that continues today—doctors want Jahi removed from life support, but her family wants her cared for since they truly believe she will recover. It’s a huge mess, and one that likely began when a surgeon nicked one of Jahi’s arteries and caused extensive brain damage.

How horrible this must be for her poor family. And though they may have a bad taste in their mouths with regard to modern medicine, the sad fact is that they will have to rely on it for as long as Jahi is alive. I certainly hope things work out for them.

Sadly, another family is dealing with a heartbreaking situation resulting from common medical procedures, this time performed by a dentist. Unlike Jahi’s family, though, they have no hope because their child is already gone.

Finley Boyle—a 3-year-old girl from Hawaii—passed away Friday night following a dental procedure last month. Ashley Boyle—the girl’s mother—took Finley to Island Dentistry for Children in November and was told she needed extensive dental work: four root canals and six fillings. Boyle returned in December to begin the root canals, but little did she know that a month later, Finley would be dead.

Apparently, the dentist performing the procedures administered the wrong dosages of drugs to Finley and even left her sedated and unmonitored for nearly 30 minutes. As a result, she went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital, where pediatric neurologist Dr. Gregory Yen performed an MRI and discovered severe brain damage—what he called a “persistent vegetative state.”

Finley Boyle (Facebook)

Finley Boyle (Facebook)

Finley’s family has filed a lawsuit against Island Dentistry alleging dangerous conduct and negligence, but the only outcome so far is that the practice has been permanently closed. I’m sure this provides little relief to Finley’s family, but at least no other children will be harmed by this deranged dentist… at least I hope they won’t.

Modern medicine is great and can work wonders, to be sure. Unfortunately, though, the individuals practicing medicine aren’t always reliable or even safe. And this fact will undoubtedly worry me every time I take my son to the doctor’s office.

Posted on January 6, 2014, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. In both cases it would seem like some malpractice or negligence were involved. Nurses are supposed to double check the doc’s scripts and one of them should have realized the dosage was off…and where was the anesthesiologist? Leaving a sedated patient, let alone a child? Very wrong.

    Either way, in both cases the parents share in the responsibility of their children even needing intervention. This 13 year old was morbidly obese and this surgery was supposed to help with apnea. Why was she allowed to eat her way to a hospital room? A 6 year old who even needs ONE root canal is a problem, let alone 4 and other work? Come on now. This is more than her not brushing her teeth.

    The problem is people expect medical professionals to be GODS. FIX everything, HEAL everything, CURE everything…but forget they are human and make mistakes…but THEIR mistakes can be deadly or life changing…until I see some mal-intent, I cannot go with wrong-doing whole-heatedly…There is neglect on the part of BOTH children’s parents, if not abuse also. IN my humble opinion, of course…as always.

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