Many people fear that they will become a hamster on a wheel when it comes to their careers. They fear that the days will become circular, meaningless, and mundane. They fear the infamous 9 to 5 lifestyle. Despite this fear and despite promising oneself that they will never fall into this life, it happens.
It happens to accountants.
It happens to engineers.
It happens to doctors.
It happened to Andy. He wakes up at 5 am every morning, he goes for a run, he brews a pot of coffee, he gets stuck in morning traffic, he gets to the office, he reviews the day’s paperwork, he reads over his list of faceless patients for the day, he sees Patient #1, he checks his vitals, he thoughtlessly goes over a standard checklist with Patient #1, he checks all the boxes, he sends Patient #1 home, and tells him to come back in a year. Andy repeats this process on twenty-seven patients. At three in the afternoon, he goes home, makes dinner, watches the news, and goes to bed. The next morning, he begins the cycle again.
One month later, Patient #1 unexpectedly dies. Amidst Andy’s thoughtlessness and eagerness to get through his visit with Patient #1 so that he could stay on schedule, Andy skipped a box on his checklist. Skipping that one box caused Patient #1’s early death. Patient #1 was a relatively healthy 58-year-old man. He was a soon-to-be grandfather. He was married for 31 years. He had five children. He had the same job since the age of 18 and worked his way up to a respectable and comfortable position. He was set to retire in one year. After retirement, he had plans to travel Europe for three months with his wife, a lifelong goal of theirs.
All of that was gone when Andy skipped one box. It was not the first box Andy skipped. And it likely will not be the last.
It’s important to be a patient advocate in today’s health care industry because the above scenario plays out far too often. It is not solely Andy’s fault for his negligence. It is the institution he works for, it is the health care industry as a whole, it is the societal pressure that is put on doctors to see twenty-seven patients in one day. Patients need advocates. They need lawyers to protect them and to send a message to the health care industry: pay attention, check all your boxes, be meticulous, and show compassion to your patients.
Patients are not faceless people. They are humans with unique needs and it is a doctor’s duty to tailor their care appropriately. Patient #1 was named Vincent. His grandchildren will never know their grandfather. His children are fatherless. His wife is a widow. The simple act of missing one box has an endless ripple effect. Vincent’s untimely death was entirely preventable. A patient advocate’s purpose is to fight for Vincent and his family. There must be accountability in the health care industry. Being a doctor should not be a mundane job. It is one that should be held on a pedestal. If there is no accountability, there will be no respect for the health care industry. If there is no respect for the health care industry, doctors stop taking their jobs seriously. When doctors stop respecting themselves and taking their jobs seriously, they skip boxes.
Patient advocates are here to ensure that the medical profession does not become a “hamster-on-a-wheel” job, but one that is full of integrity and professionalism so that each and every patient receives proper care.
Allen Tittle’s Medical Malpractice Awareness Scholarship was created to give students an outlet to talk about medical malpractice, patient advocacy, and the need for change.
Read the second-place winner of Allen Tittle’s Medical Malpractice Awareness Scholarship here.
As a Cleveland medical malpractice law firm, Tittle & Perlmuter believes raising awareness about medical malpractice will encourage tomorrow’s leaders to make impactful and essential changes in the healthcare industry.