100 percent satisfaction doesn’t work in our health system

“I want answers!” My mother was upset over the care for her ill husband. Previously able to converse normally, he was now incoherent and disoriented. The recent recipient of a bone marrow transplant to treat his advanced leukemia, he probably experienced a brain infection because of the immune suppression therapy needed to accept the marrow. The marrow transplant didn’t work. He was sent home from the hospital on hospice care and died soon afterward in the hospice addition of the hospital where I was an intern at the time.

My mother insisted that something went wrong, that the hospital was trying to cover up a mistake. I tried to explain that there were risks to the procedure but that it was his only hope for survival. This was unfortunately a common outcome in the type of leukemia he had. I saw nothing wrong in his care.

Where did the process break down? Did the oncologist not explain this possibility? This is unlikely. Did my mother not understand the risks and benefits? This is possible, though I think it is more likely that she didn’t want to comprehend them.

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