A slip of the scalpel, an invisible microbe, a minute miscalculation. It’s estimated that something goes wrong for more than one million people per year during a visit to the hospital. Some patients experience a full physical recovery. Some are never fully healed.
But even if patients are lucky enough to physically heal, their lives may never be the same. Sleep becomes elusive, relationships break apart, and a wall of silence appears between patients and the doctors they trusted.
What follows is a conversation of sorts between some of the 1,550 members of our ProPublica Patient Harm Facebook community and Dr. Gerald Monk, a professor at San Diego State University who specializes in dealing with the aftermath of patient harm for both patients and providers. We asked group members to share their questions and thoughts about the aftermath of patient harm, and then got Monk’s response. What emerges is a portrait of the long journey that begins after the unthinkable happens.
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