• Friday, December 08, 2023
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Avoidable mortality?


While chatting with a friend driving home after work, she casually mentioned she had just gone past someone who had an uncanny resemblance of an old schoolmate of ours; only that the schoolmate had recently passed on!

I hadn’t heard of her passage, so I wondered how I missed this particular news. Not that I was friendly with the girl or anything, but you’d agree social media platforms now provide much easier access to news, hence my surprise at having missed it. I asked for the details surrounding her death from my friend. This particular question of mine often shocks my husband, who says he has no idea what use the information is at that point, he believes the people should simply answer ‘death’ in response to my question.

Anyhow, my friend narrates how this old schoolmate had suffered a couple of miscarriages over the years, not knowing why. During a brief trip to the states, she thought to go for a quick check-up and was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. This apparently was the cause of her many miscarriages I’m told. What a shock it must have been to her and her family. As I began to wonder if the connection could have been made at home, this piece isn’t intended as a finger pointing one, but rather a sincere ponder on the frequency of misdiagnosis, non-diagnosis or those cases not knowing what to do that result in death.

To be honest, I have had an earful of it. First, it was a friend’s sister who had been on dialysis for months in readiness for a transplant, and when she got to her transplant destination (with the donor in tow), the doctors said she had a heart condition, and that the dialysis carried out was inappropriate. Then it was another friend’s father who had a nerve condition and when he got to this country for a surgery, he met a priest whose leg had been amputated somewhere in the east and was told on arrival in that country that he had no business having his leg amputated!

This particular case was very concerning to me, for I thought the process of deciding on amputation took the deepest thought and as such tests and retests? And so it was that I harassed one of our friends who’s a doctor – Doctor Peeras, as we call her. I pulled her aside to ask her why all the improper diagnosis? she muttered something about a lack of modern equipment, not expertise being the challenge. I often wonder during my quiet times how many bereavements suffered in our environment now and again are avoidable.

For a long time now, I’ve been meaning to put to action my desire to learn proper first-aid techniques – basic cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR0 and aquatic training, what to do in a fire, what to do in a car or dome accident or otherwise; what to do when someone suddenly collapses, just so I’d be one less helpless person among the standard quick-to-gather crowds. I remember too often the story of a returnee whose flat was engulfed in fire, she told the story of how she dashed into her room, pulled her blanket and hurriedly soaked it in water and rolled out of the fire, sounded like a made for a movie story. But her awareness of basic first-aid/emergency procedures helped much.

I understand in a city like Seattle, in the US, where CPR training is quite widespread, survival rate of sudden collapse for instance is by as much as 30 percent. A head full of ‘God forbids,’ never lets me think up a fire at my house, but the all-important question is; Would we each know what to do? How many times have we tried to fan out flames or even worse tried to blow out flames, or gathered at the site of an accident as onlookers and not genuinely knowing what to do? Or even worse, done the wrong thing? While we need Doctor Peters and co to help us look into the big ticket items of misdiagnosis, I think we on one hand need to take definite steps to help reduce unnecessary deaths by learning and teaching basic emergency procedural processes. Teaching volunteers, anyone?, we promise to pass on the baton.