Within two weeks of Joyce Oyler’s discharge from the hospital, sores developed in her mouth and throat, and blood began seeping from her nose and bowels.
Her daughter traced the source to the medicine bottles in Oyler’s home in St. Joseph, Missouri. One drug that keeps heart patients like Oyler from retaining fluids was missing. In its place was a toxic drug with a similar name but different purpose, primarily to treat cancer and severe arthritis. The label said to take it daily.
“I gathered all her medicine, and as soon as I saw that bottle, I knew she couldn’t come back from this,” said the daughter, Kristin Sigg, an oncology nurse. “There were many layers and mistakes made after she left the hospital. It should have been caught about five different ways.”
Oyler’s death occurred at one of the most dangerous junctures in medical care: when patients leave the hospital. Bad coordination often plagues patients’ transitions to the care of home health agencies, as well as to nursing homes and other professionals charged with helping them recuperate, studies show. (Rau, 5/2)