The Indiana medical community has been reeling this past week over the fallout from a tragic accident stemming from perfectly preventable circumstances. Two premature infant girls died and four other babies were put at risk after all received accidental overdoses of an anti-clotting drug in Methodist Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, officials said Sunday.

Unfortunately, these two deaths were stark reminders of what we already knew: About 98,000 Americans die each year, according to researchers, in part because of miscommunication of drug orders and the lack of accurate labeling as a drug is prepared.

One would think that the cries of “we must DO SOMETHING!1!” would have gone on loud and clear when the report was issued. However, that was six years ago. Six years of Cassandra-like pronouncements, going unheeded until something horrific happens to capture our attention.

My mother is a nurse. The best man from my wedding is a nurse. The man who was like a father to me is a nurse. My sister is studying to become a nurse. So, of course I am going to take up for nurses, the most unappreciated cog in the medical industry machinery. I talked to a nurse and it took them all of three minutes to come up with a list of reforms, ones that look remarkably like those being implemented now. Six years later. And once our attention has been garnered, there are only limited recourse.

The aunt of a baby who died after getting the wrong dose of a drug at Methodist Hospital said her family wants more than an apology. “I feel like all (these) nurses need to be fired,” said Brittany Alexander. “I don’t understand how an accident like this could happen and happened to more than one baby.”

Of course she does. Of course there is talk of legal action. If anything even remotely close to this had happened to either of my children, that’s the least I would want. And while no amount of money could bring my child back, I’d want the hospital to write a big enough check to force them to re-evaluate their policies. Deaths are tragic and are a part of being a hospital, however, there’s nothing like the threat of a lawsuit to take immediate steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The sad reality is that it is our nature to not do something until we’re forced to do it. Sometimes it’s just because we’re lazy. Sometimes it’s a function of greed. More times than not, it is merely the inertia of doing things the way they’ve always been done. What I don’t want to see is bad policies put into action in the heat of the moment for the sake of appearing to “DO SOMETHING!1!” Yes, two deaths is two too many.

When all is said and done, this won’t change our minds one iota about whether or not to go to a hospital, even this one. We can only hope they will have learned their lesson and taken steps to prevent similar tragedies. Sometimes that requires more faith than I have.

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