It is hard to distinguish fact from myth when it comes to illness and mortality. Because it is a sensitive subject, many resources on the subject will use language to disguise certain information in order to calm people’s anxieties or to possibly convince patients to make choices that complement them financially. As a consumer, distinguishing myth from fact and knowing where to find legitimate and unbiased information in relation to illness and mortality can be challenging. Here are a few common myths regarding the subject, along with facts that address their corresponding myth:
Myth: Hospitals are the safest place to be in any medical emergency. They are impeccably safe and they always provide high quality care.
Facts: The estimated number of deaths from avoidable medical errors in hospitals each year is 210,000 to 440,000, according to a 2013 study (James cited by Allen). Additionally, 10 U.S. Hospital received an F in the most recent grading. 60% of those hospitals were based in California, the United State’s most populated state (Terhune, 2017). Another news article reported that the likelihood of patients in end-stage kidney failure receiving the recommended type of dialysis treatment depends on where patients are located (2015).
Myth: The majority of patients receiving end-of-life care have their wishes listened to, and granted to the best of the caretaker and facility’s ability. I believed this myth myself, as my great-grandparents received wonderful care from their caretakers and hospital at the end of their lives.
Facts: In reality, how patients in the ending of their lives spend their last days is too often left to the hands of finances and logistics. For example, where and how cancer patients expecting to die spend their last days is often dependent on factors such as: number of hospital beds available, services available at a facility and/or in a geographic area, and local practices within an area. For this reason, whether cancer a cancer patient receives personal end-of-life care varies geographically (Kenen, 2010).
Myth: Those living in assisted living in and receiving care in assisted living residences are rarely exploited or taken advantage of.
Facts: Vulnerable adults living in assisted living residences, specifically those meant alternatives to nursing homes, can be vulnerable to exploitation from their caregivers. Let’s look at an invention from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) called “adult family homes”, which allow people to license their homes to house adults in need of care and care for them. Though DSHS claims to do its best to ensure only caring people run adult family homes, the rate of which they have grown has made it impossible to adequately license everyone. As a result, there have been several reported cases of abuse and neglect of people living in licensed adult family homes.
Those wanting more information on illness and mortality, and are unsure where to start should research their rights as consumers in this realm of life. A good place to start could be this this page outlining funeral and burial rights or or this more general page regarding rights after death. In order to make the best choices for yourself and your family in such sensitive times, it is important to know what others can and can’t do in terms of end-of-life arrangements.
Allen, M. (2013, September 20). How Many Die From Medical Mistakes In U.S. Hospitals? Northwest Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals
Bernes, M. J. (2010, January 30). How the aged and frail are exploited in Washington’s adult family homes. The Seattle Times. Retrieved from http://old.seattletimes.com/html/seniorsforsale/2010939195_seniors31.html
The FTC Funeral Rule. (2016, September 01). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0300-ftc-funeral-rule
Geography Is Destiny in Deaths from Kidney Failure, Study Shows. (2015, June 24). Science Daily. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-419219367.html?refid=easy_hf
James, J. T. (2013). A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated With Hospital Health. Journal of Patient Safety, 0(0), 1-7. Retrieved from https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/781687-john-james-a-new-evidence-based-estimate-of.html#document/p1/a117333.
J. K. (n.d.). For Dying Cancer Patients, Geography is Destiny. Pacific Standard. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from https://psmag.com/social-justice/for-dying-cancer-patients-geography-is-destiny-25370
Legal/Your Rights Archives. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://funerals.org/consumers/legalyour-rights/