Our book At Your Fingertips and movie Without Consent are very personal to us, because we found out the hard way, how vital it is to keep your family safe no matter where they are – even when they’re in the hospital. In fact it’s imperative to have that part of your lives absolutely organized, armor-plated, undefeatable and secure.
We’ll never forget the day we realized it wasn’t.
Elaine Sullivan was an active seventy-one year old living on her own in Chicago. One day while getting ready to take a bath, she slipped and fell, striking her head and mouth on the side of the tub. Her neighbors realized they hadn’t seen her all day and called the paramedics, who went in and found her, conscious, but unable to speak.
She had previously been a patient at the hospital she was taken to, she had Medicare, supplemental insurance and everything she needed. Or so we thought.
Even though she was stable, injuries to her mouth made her unable to speak for herself. Over the next few days, after a series of serious medical errors and a critical drug interaction, her condition worsened. Elaine Sullivan was my mother.
Despite the fact that the hospital had my daughter Laura’s and my contact information for our home in Los Angeles, the hospital neglected to call us for 6 1/2 days. By the time they finally called to tell us that she’d been hospitalized, she was in critical condition and we weren’t able to get to her before she died, unnecessarily and completely alone.
As we found out later, she died because the hospital gave her medication that caused a fatal interaction with a prescription she was already taking. Why? Because the doctors treating her didn’t have her medical or prescription drug history at their fingertips.
One simple thing would have prevented her death.
An ICE Contact.
An in case of emergency contact that you place on your smartphone that details emergency contacts along with basic medical, prescription drug and allergy information.
Since then, through our blog, our book At Your Fingertips and our revolutionary 2 Minute ICE Contact, we’ve become the foremost ICE educators in America. The moral of the story is that you never know what piece of information, no matter how small, might save the life of someone you love.
It’s taken on greater importance these past few years, since the pandemic has literally kept families of hospitalized COVID patients away from their bedsides and cut off from the people who love them, just when they need them most. We’ve put together a new guide filled with tools and resources to stay connected with hospitalized loved ones. Read more about Alone Together.
Since we’re writers though, there’s more to the story. Laura and I felt strongly about finding a way to keep the same thing from happening to anyone else’s family, so we did what we do best. We turned it into a movie, that we’re currently developing, called Without Consent. Here is a little more about it.
Does a hospital have the right to treat a patient who can’t communicate, without consulting her family, her doctor, or her medical history?
For six days?
One hospital did and it cost a 71 year old woman her life. Can her daughter and granddaughter keep the same thing from happening to anyone else?
From this story, which was inspired by actual events, came three healthcare laws in two states, the Next of Kin Education Project, an organization dedicated to patient and family safety and their books Connected, Ready and Get Your Stuff Together.
Questions? Email Us!