Medical error is a major cause of deaths globally


Sometime around 2015, about seven months into my weight loss programme that dropped down my weight by 15 percent from 94kg to 80kg, I complained to my cardiologist about my panting during regular exercises, which was never an issue before.

In the course of the consultation I mentioned to my cardiologist about my slow heart rate which usually hovers around 62 beats per minute in the morning and falling down to 47-52 bpm before going to bed.

It never went that low in years of taking a beta blocker and amlodipine medication combination.

I can monitor the change because I measure my blood pressure and heart rates 3-5 times a day as advised by my cardiologist.

Instead of addressing the panting issue my cardiologist went on and on assuring me there was no cause for alarm. He kept repeating that many athletes’ heart rates are in the 50s.

That consultation was the final straw that lead me to rethink of my faith in him. Comparing me to athletes who are healthy with normally low heart rates against mine which is artificially lowered by medication was just too much.

I transferred to another hospital where my new cardiologist performed several tests including a treadmill test. Medication was reduced by 30% at first, much further down later.

He wanted to change my medications to different brands that are so pricey. One was three times more expensive than what I was taking then and the other was too expensive beyond belief. I asked him politely if I could stick with my current brand of medications and see how they work out until my next visit. To date, I am still using my previous much cheaper medications.

Side note: My friend tried to ask her doctor from a government hospital for a possible change in medication that appears to be causing her oedema but was cut short by her doctor’s remark: “I am the doctor; I know what’s best. You can transfer to another doctor if you are not satisfied.”

My first day with the endocrinologist did not go smoothly.

My blood test results showed my fasting glucose at 89mg/dl, and my HbA1C read 6.0 %, which was above the hospital’s normal range of 5.6% or below.

The doctor strongly recommended to double the dose of my diabetic medications but I requested her to allow me first to try diet and exercise to lower the readings. Two months later, my fasting glucose was again normal at 90mg/dl, and my HbA1C was at 5.1%, which was within their guideline of 5.6% or lower.

I was also tested for ‘Creatinine; eGFR (blood)’, which read 1.35 mg/dl and above their normal range of 0.73 to 1.18 mg/dl.

She asked me to come back three weeks later for a recheck. She did not give me any advice what else I should do about the situation.

At that time, I already had a better understanding of my health conditions and was fully aware of the implications of the laboratory result. I reduced my protein intake to normal limits, which is 0.8g per kilogram of ideal weight per day and consistently drank more water.

Three weeks had passed. My new reading was 1.11 mg/dl and well within normal range.

What I consider a medical error of omission on the part of my doctor was that she did not even advise me on anything like drinking two litres of water or limiting protein intake, etc.

Had I not done the simple things mentioned above the high reading would have persisted.  My endocrinologist would have started me prematurely on kidney disease medications and, most likely, regular dialysis, which I would have to suffer and pay for the rest of my life.

Thanks to my new perception and new attitude about doctors and treatment in general, and to better understanding of my conditions, my medications and various health control options available, I now have a better control of my health. It has saved me money so far and avoided a potential medical error.

The author is a trade exhibition marketing professional.

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  1. Pingback: Retired Filipino teacher misdiagnosed with stage-four kidney disease

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