Monday, November 10, 2008

The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation

This morning at MOPS a group of women from The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation came to speak to us. The foundation was started by a family whose 3-year old son tragically died last year due to medical errors. Here is their story:

"Our happy and healthy 3-year old son Sebastian died at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida in October 2007 as a result of a medication overdose followed by a series of preventable medical errors.

After Sebastian’s death, we heard from many concerned pediatricians and parents in the community about improvements that could be made in patient safety and pediatric care.

To honor our son and to turn our tragedy into something positive, we established the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation to serve as a catalyst for profound change in the way hospitals and health care professionals care for children and their families.

Since forming our Foundation, we have received widespread support and we are encouraged by the progress we have made in a very short time.In fact, many community leaders, parents and more than 150 local pediatricians and pediatric, have come together with many others from Shands HealthCare and the University of Florida College of Medicine to support our cause.

The mission of the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation is to advocate and fundraise for a state-of-the-art, full service children's hospital in Gainesville, Florida while promoting excellence in patient safety and insuring that all families are treated with compassion, courtesy and dignity.

Our ultimate goal is to build a state-of-the-art, full service children’s hospital in Gainesville. While we are advocating and fundraising for our dream, we are partnering with Shands HealthCare and the University of Florida College of Medicine to develop a nationally recognized, comprehensive patient safety program that will be implemented as part of the Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Safety. The safety programs implemented as part of this new office in memory of Sebastian will benefit all patients at Shands HealthCare, not just children.

Sebastian's mother was one of the women who spoke to us. There was not a dry eye in the room. All of us could relate to her and could feel her loss. Sebastian had been brought into Shands for an out-patient test. He was not growing as much as his doctors would have liked and they wanted to test his Human Growth Hormone levels. The test required him to be given some medication and then sent home. The nurse who administered his medication gave him 10 times as much as he needed, due in part to a mistake made by the pharmacy who labeled the vials of medication wrongly. When Sebastian's parents became concerned by the amount of medication he was given and by the later side effects caused by the over dose, they were simply reassured that everything was fine. Obviously, it wasn't. Sebastian died later that night. Sebastian's mother and the other women there (including a local pediatrician) spoke to us about being an advocate for your child and making sure to speak up if you are not sure about a procedure or medication that is being given to you child. It was amazing to me how many other moms in the room had stories involving mistakes that doctors had made or that the pharmacy had made filling their prescriptions, none them ended as catastrophically as the Ferrero's case, but the number of mistakes was startling. I guess I don't have much other purpose to this post than to let people know about the Ferrero's story and to just tell parents to be aware of what is going with your kids at the doctor's office. Don't just ignore your intuition that something is wrong just because someone in a white coat tells you it's not. Doctors, just like the rest of us, are only human and they do make mistakes. So, just don't be afraid to ask questions and push for answers you understand.

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