PETITION FOR BRIGGS FOR A NEW ERA IN MEDICAL CARE
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My wife Briggs would still be alive if not for all the harm that was done to her during her treatment. We'd begun turning around her cancer ourselves when I lost her to medical errors in what was meant to be a short emergency hospital stay.
I wrote a book about her cancer journey, "Briggs: Love, Cancer, and the Medical Profession". A recent study in the British Medical Journal confirmed one of my chapter titles, that medical errors are still the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
I took the photo above very early in the morning. Briggs was there for a revision surgery. The previous operation had failed because a premier surgeon at one of the foremost cancer centres in Manhattan, if not the world, hadn't followed what I later discovered was standard procedure. But all Briggs cared about was that a nurse had just given her a warmed blanket.
A retired nurse wrote in a review of the book, "We need this type of information long before something happens because in the throes of it one becomes so drained they cannot decide which way to go!!" A doctor called it "a major eye opener," messaging me separately to say it's overturned his approach and telling me about saving a boy's life by intervening with a colleague.
I quote a Harvard professor's estimate that between 90 and 99 percent of side effects go unreported. The FDA relies on those reports to determine the ongoing safety of a drug once it's on the market. The side effects of an anti-anemia drug Briggs was given just one time put her in the hospital for 30 days. I later found there'd been a Congressional hearing on the safety of it. Briggs had almost died even after the paramedics came.
I cite a study co-funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, led by the University of California, San Francisco. Depending on the facility, it found that CT scans can deliver a massive 13 times their already-high base radiation.
There are dozens more examples in the book. Another reader wrote, "My own experience, and the unflinching witness of Paul Sanderson's enraging, moving, generous tribute to his wife, communicate that damage comes far more easily than healing when principles and intentions become distorted…So, read this book as a warning, as an opportunity, as a privilege."
Susan Sarandon writes, "He's giving us the tools to avoid the 'died of complications from' in too many patients' obituaries at the same time as setting out to usher in a new era in cancer twenty years ahead of time. Let's join him in the fight."
Please join me in calling for a new era in medical care and treatment, including by extension the pharmaceutical industry. We need standardized procedures that among other things curb the profit motive; a new approach to the approval and dispensing of drugs; far more analysis of their effectiveness and safety compared with well-documented natural alternatives; patients and caregivers being given crucial, comprehensive information, including conflicts of interest; the list goes on and on.
From the medical professionals' side, that includes eliminating the exhaustion factor due to overlong shifts routinely worked in hospitals and addressing such issues as in a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. With the U.S.'s multiple insurer system, it found that for every hour physicians see patients, they need to spend almost two additional hours on paperwork.
I've written a new article about the 250,000 Americans a year dying from medical errors, with more on Briggs's journey: I Didn’t Think One Person Had This Many Tears. At the end, I ask patients and caregivers to use #ThisManyTears and the link to the article to add their stories on social media. This petition is meant to begin the conversation in earnest.
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