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Sunday, January 27, 2019
Interview with Medical Manslaughter author Gloria J. Yorke
Sometimes it takes a novel to get us to understand the deeper, more important truths about life and death -- especially when it involves love, miracles, and one woman’s powerful desire to find meaning in a world, turned upside down by the loss of her husband.
Medical Manslaughter, by widow, Gloria J. Yorke, is such a book! Based on her true, but incredible life and journey, Gloria’s story also explores selfless caregiving for her husband Dick, his recovery against all odds, gross medical malpractice, and medical record cover-ups.
Gloria lost him nearly six years ago. He was a Chicago legend, entertainer, singer, and virtuoso of the tenor sax who opened shows for many of the greatest entertainers in history….the original Rat Pack—Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. – and Tony Bennett, Johnny Cash, Wayne Newton, Mel Torme, Phyllis Diller….the list is almost endless.
Early one morning in July 2012, Dick collapsed at his home, and was rushed to the closest local hospital. Tests proved he had blood on all sides, and inside his brain. It was recommended that he be immediately transferred to a larger hospital that had its own neurological department. Upon doing so, he was placed in ICU. After three days there, and starting to show signs of slight recovery, they moved him to a regular floor for rehab. Was expected to go home in three days! It was here that the doctor assigned to him made a crucial medical error that began the end of Dick’s life.
This medical mistake pushed him into a coma by the following morning! The head neurologist stated, ‘Let him die!’ The hospital began to harass Gloria with daily demands to discharge him, while nursing homes were refusing to take him. But finally one did accept him, thinking he was going to die in a week. Through sheer determination and prayer, Gloria willed him out of a 34-day coma and helped him live another six months, while recovering from garbled speech, brain damage, and other related complications.
“What happened to him at home was an accident; but what happened at the hospital was criminal!” fumes Gloria. “I brought him into the hospital with his senses. He could walk, talk, and he knew me…only suffering with severe head pain. This hospital turned him into a vegetable state, by pushing him into a coma by forcing a prescription drug needlessly, over my repeated objection! No amount of time, nor inundated tears will ever erase the devastation and heartbreak that I lived, every minute of every day during that nightmare…and still can vividly recall!”
Gloria, who is a client of the public relations firm that I work for, is a tireless advocate for those who are caregivers and lobbies hard against the unnecessary suffering caused by medical malpractice taking place daily. Below is an interview with her:
1. What inspired you to write Medical Manslaughter? In January 2013, my husband died due to doctor error. The Doctor assigned to him, in the hospital on a regular floor, prescribed a sleeping pill, even though his chart showed that he still had blood on all sides and inside his brain, since leaving ICU, three days prior. She completely ignored my objection, as wife and power of attorney. He was sleeping fine, and did not need any medication. I asked her to review his chart again. Her response was, “I know what I’m doing!” Before I could stop the nurse, she administered the pill early that evening. The following morning, he was found in a coma, which began the end of his life!
2. Gloria, your debut novel provides a real-life dramatization of what happened to your husband once he fell and hit his head in his house. Do you blame the doctors that treated him for his death? Absolutely! I believe the initial doctor assigned to him caused his death! My husband did not need a sleeping pill, and I stressed that fact to the doctor emphatically. She could have started with a small dose, but no, she prescribed the strongest…50 mgs. I reminded her that he had a concussion, and had been in ICU for three days, and was sent up to a regular floor for rehabilitation, and was told he would be home in three days! His condition was extremely delicate. But, she would not even listen to my opinion. She resented that I was challenging her decision, and let me know it, by ignoring my wishes, and abruptly walking out of the room.
3. Why didn’t you file a lawsuit for medical malpractice? I contacted an attorney, specializing in malpractice. He seemed very interested, until I told him the name of the hospital. Then his tone changed. I sent him the records. A few days later, his secretary called saying they were not interested in this case. The following week, I called another attorney, and spoke with the senior partner, asking that I send all of the records. The following week, he called to ask the exact date my husband went into the coma. I repeated July 27, 2012. He informed me that the record showed from July 27 on…”Patient was alert and anxious to go home!” I shouted, “Stop! He was in a coma for 34 days! He replied, “The doctor and nurse went in and changed the record…You don’t have a leg to stand on!”
4. There are over a quarter-million deaths blamed each year on medical errors. What could be done to reduce that number? Our government, under Health and Human Services, must mandate accountability procedures, so that hospitals keep honest and accurate records, that should be checked often by statistical auditors! There should be no more hiding of the facts, so that hospitals get funding and good ratings. Accountability will highlight this fearsome situation, bringing to light the fact that medial error has reached epidemic proportions! It is only when uncorrupted and facts are chronicled in patients’ records, that experts will be able to address the situation clearly. Those institutions and individuals who show repeat error occurrences and deaths, should be subject to interrogation, investigation, and prosecution. No longer can the excuse just be, “Oops, I made a mistake!”
5. What should those who enter a hospital know about their level of care they are to receive? Everyone entering a hospital, needs to KNOW that they need an ADVOCATE. A spouse, friend, or relative must visit daily, and take an extreme interest in what is happening to and for the patient. It is wise to discuss with family and friends, prior to getting ill, asking them to assume that responsibility if and when you might be hospitalized. You of course, would most likely do the same for them. What are the duties of an advocate? A sincere trusting advocate, takes a detailed interest in your welfare. They look for signs of abuse, adverse reactions to medicines, the patient’s mood—are they irritable, itchy, not sleeping. Cleanliness--- bedsheets, pillows, the floor, the bathroom…keeping in mind that germs are your enemy.
6. Once your husband was in a coma for a week, why did the hospital tell you “to let him die”? When my husband first went into a coma, I had asked immediately for another doctor to be assigned to him. Obviously, I did not trust the judgment of the doctor who put him in that coma. This new doctor engaged the help of the entire neurology staff, including the Head Neurologist, who started extensive testing. They tried everything, to find out why he went into a coma, and how to bring him out of it. After two weeks, he met with me and showed me his brain tests, stating he was stymied. He did not know the answer to either question. Believing he exhausted all efforts, and that my husband would never come out of the coma, he stated, “Let him die!”
7. How did you will him out of it, after 34 days in a coma? Actually it was more than just my WILL that did it. Quickly, I researched as much as I could about the brain, and figured he needed circulation to that area. So I purchased a Theta CD which supposedly stimulates a part of the brain. Then I began massaging his neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and legs with a vibrating massager. Naturally he was very stiff all over, having not moved in an entire month. So I had to handle him carefully and gently, as he would moan many times, even though still in the coma state. I did this religiously every day, which took about an hour or longer. His physician at the nursing home thought my husband was going to die within one week after his admittance.
8. You then helped him to regain his speech with intense rehabilitation and therapy. Were you amazed that he lived another six months upon waking up from a coma that the doctors thought he’d never awaken from? He went into the coma in July, while in the hospital. In August, 34 days later, he awakened in the nursing home. Of course, during that month I began my ritual of massaging him, and playing his CD’s. Being he was a singer and had a big band orchestra for many years, it was natural to stimulate his brain this way. When he first woke up, he replied “OK” to the administrator. However, upon waking up, when I was present, his speech was all garbled and unrecognizable. Yes, I needed a professional speech therapist to help unravel his speech. No, I was not amazed that he lived another six months. I thought with my personal care, I would have him for at least one year!
9. What tips can you offer to those who have to be strong advocates regarding the healthcare of a loved one? First major tip---TALK about your wishes...if something should happen to you. Perhaps during Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings, it would be a good time to bring up this subject. In doing so, all of your family/friends would know your wishes, and would know that they ALL will play an important part in your care, depending on its severity. This is important, because being an advocate demands a lot of time and energy. If your spouse or friend is a senior, they might not have the energy to be at your side for eight hours or more a day, every day. This is when a rotating schedule would go into effect, so the responsibility is distributed.
10. What advice do you have for others who struggle with life-death decisions and conflicts? FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION! God has blessed us with this marvelous alarm button, and all too often we ignore it….our INTUITION! If you don’t have a good relationship or connection to your Creator…God…The Universe...call it what you will, you will be like a kite blowing in the wind, with no string attached. You will be a lost soul. Think about those who are diagnosed with a disease, or hardship and they have nowhere to turn. Many family, relatives and friends don’t want to hear your problems…they just want to hear your successes. Eventually, those successes stop. Without having a connection to a Higher Power, you will sink into the lowest form of loneliness and depression … a black abyss, where you are powerless to save yourself! For example, look at the many named personalities, whose lives have ended in suicide.
11. What do you hope readers will take away from your emotional saga? It is my desire that they will learn much! That they will see what Gabriella did right, and what she did wrong. Hopefully, they will emulate the right, and leave the hospital in good health. They and their advocate (s) simply must be alert! Ask questions, meet with the attending physician often, educate themselves about the illness, so they can ask pertinent questions. Ask about the negatives….what could go wrong with an operation or procedure, or adverse reactions to medicines. When asking questions, make sure the doctor, nurse or specialist answers in layman terms. If you don’t understand what they’re saying, ask them to clarify. Lastly, it is always a good gesture to bring some goodies for the nursing staff.---cookies, candy, donuts. A little kindness will go a long way!
For more information, please consult: www.gloriajyorke.us.
Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."