Patient harm: why training and education matters
Alexus Ochoa had her entire life ahead of her. The 19-year old college athlete and honor student was taken to the emergency room when she reported chest pain, shortness of breath, and suddenly fainted. When she arrived at the ED, only a nurse practitioner was present. The multi-billion-dollar hospital system routinely replaced emergency physicians with nurse practitioners - with NO doctor onsite. The nurse practitioner treated Alexus improperly for over 11 hours, never once calling her 'supervising' physician. Alexus was finally transferred to another facility, where physicians correctly diagnosed her with a pulmonary embolism - a blood clot in her lungs. Although they started treatment immediately, Alexus died.
Alexus's parents reported having no idea that she was being treated by a nurse practitioner. They were under the assumption that she was being cared for by a physician.
Betty Wattenbarger was a beloved seven-year-old girl who was taken to local urgent care by her parents when she fell ill with fever and developed a bluish tinge to her lips. The pediatric nurse practitioner diagnosed her with flu and sent her home. The nurse practitioner did not consult with the physician on staff. Less than fifteen hours later, Betty died from pneumonia and sepsis. Betty's parents did not understand that Betty was not being treated by a physician.
Stevie Ryan was a Hollywood comedienne and YouTube sensation who began care with a psychiatric nurse practitioner. According to reports, the NP engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship and then encouraged her NOT to be hospitalized when she developed suicidal thoughts. Stevie subsequently took her own life.
PODCAST: Hear from Stevie's friend