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The case of Lewis Blackman is a tragic tale of two ill doctors. Despite their best efforts, the two doctors failed to deliver a successful treatment. Ultimately, Lewis Blackman died from his injuries. But that did not deter the team of doctors from trying their best to save his life. After studying his medical records, Dr. Greg Korbon - a veteran anesthesiologist and assistant professor at Duke University and the University of Virginia - re-examined the case. In fact, the veteran anesthesiologist and medical educator said, "A Boy Scout could have done better than the doctors at MUSC."
The award is given to a health care provider, an advocate, or a student who demonstrates excellence in patient safety. The Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Champion Awards honor individuals who are demonstrating excellence in patient safety through their efforts to save patients' lives. The awards were named in honor of Lewis Wardlaw Blackman, who died in 2000 from a preventable medical error. Helen Haskell, founder of Mothers Against Medical Error, also served as one of the three judges for the Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Champion Awards.
In the morning, Lewis Blackman experienced a sharp abdominal pain. It was unlike the normal pain experienced after surgery, and the nurses assumed he was suffering from ileus, a condition caused by epidural narcotics. But his condition quickly turned from benign to dangerous. He had a rapid heart rate and a distended belly. Additionally, his heart rate rose dramatically and he had no energy to go to the bathroom.
The autopsy revealed that Lewis bled internally, despite having a healthy heart. Nearly three liters of blood accumulated in his abdomen. That amount of blood is extremely large for a child of Lewis' size. This indicates that his blood supply was severed in this part of his body. After the autopsy, Dr. Tagge called Helen to inform her that Lewis' death was the result of an error, and that the hospital's failure to act quickly could have saved him.
The Center for Justice and Democracy, an advocacy group based in Columbia, South Carolina, published a book entitled "The Case of Lewis Blackman" that documents the case. This book provides a human face to medical errors. It is a heartbreaking story, and Helen Gergel, Lewis' parents, are now using the money to improve patient safety and prevent future tragedies. In the meantime, the story of Lewis Blackman is spreading across the world.
Helen Haskell, the mother of Lewis Blackman, speaks of her son's life. Lewis was a bright, innocent, all-American kid who had many talents. She wants people to know that Lewis Blackmon mattered to her and did not just become a medical statistic. Instead, she wants to convey to them that Lewis Blackman was exceptional and that he will always be remembered. She also wants others to learn about her son in hopes that similar tragedies will never happen again.
Helen haskell notes that the lack of teamwork and the poor execution of care contributed to Lewis' death. The nurse who cared for Lewis failed to build a rapport with him and recognize his condition. She would have brought the issue to the physician if she'd recognized the problem. She was also unaware that the physician and supervisors were nowhere to be seen. As a result, Lewis suffered from internal bleeding. This could have been avoided had the proper communication.
Helen is unable to convince the nurse to see Lewis, who has an acute abdomen. Her husband believes Lewis is lazy and doesn't walk enough. Helen begins a vigil for Lewis. When the nurse doesn't arrive, she calls for a veteran doctor. She insists that the veteran doctor be summoned. A veteran doctor comes, but it's impossible to be sure. A veteran doctor might be the only one to see Lewis, but it's not guaranteed.
Lewis Blackman's case highlights the importance of teamwork and communication. The team should be able to communicate and act swiftly to address concerns. Ultimately, the outcome is important, but it is important to acknowledge that the healthcare team is not always the patient's sole representative. If the team had communicated better and addressed the parents' concerns, Lewis's parents might have felt more comfortable with the care they received. However, if the care team had included Lewis' family in the decision-making process, they may have saved his life.
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