Dear Readers and Friends,

I would like to talk to you today as a nurse about some extremely important things regarding surgery, medical treatments, medical tests, and medications.

None of these things should ever be taken lightly and thought to be totally safe without a possibility of something going wrong.  Any intervention of this type can cause a problem, even a serious problem, or death.

You can have an allergy to anything.  You can pick up germs and illnesses in even the cleanest of hospitals.  There are often drug resistant organisms in those facilities.  There can be totally unexpected problems develop.  You can get an infection from any surgery.  Strokes may occur with some surgeries. There can be anesthesia difficulties of various kinds.  You could have a side effect from a medication. Also, medication errors are sometimes made.  I have seen many of these things working as a nurse.  When you think about it, there is a risk to everything in life.

I can't emphasize enough here that you must be aware of the possibility of complications when you get medical care of any kind.  You should always discuss the treatment and risks with your doctor, physician assistant, nurse, caregiver, or pharmacist.  You should do your homework and research on line or somewhere else like a library. 

As an example of that, I just found out from a friend about a tragic case.  There was a 24 year old man in her family that was married with two small daughters.  He was given 2 medications that could not be taken together and died.  It can happen just that easily and tragically.  You need to be your own advocate and investigator.

When you are sitting there signing a consent form for a procedure or surgery, read it closely and consider what it is saying.  Don't just sign it blindly as most people appear to do.  Carefully consider the risks.  There are so many variables that can cause things to go wrong.  And, I hope and pray if things don't go quite as expected you don't make a beeline to an attorney.  That is one of the things that is breaking our system now.  It is driving up the cost of malpractice insurance so doctors can hardly afford it and making the cost of medical treatment skyrocket. 

As you have read, my husband had a fairly large risk of disability or death with his surgery.  But without it he had a 100% chance of dying.  In his case, it was a pretty easy decision.  You always need to weigh the risks. 

My friends, are you willing to accept things going less than perfectly?  Have you made a will and a living will (advance directive)?  Are you an organ donor in case you are in a bad accident, have a fatal illness, or some other cause of demise?  If not, please sign up for that right away.  Put it on your driver's license and tell your family.  There is nothing I believe in more than organ donation.  What a fantastic, loving thing to do, to save or enhance a life with an organ that you no longer need.  That is love your neighbor as yourself at its highest level.  If you were the one on the receiving end, think what a great blessing that would be to you and yours.

Perhaps a hundred years or so from now all surgeries and treatments will work perfectly.  Or, maybe we will all be so well we don't even need them.  However, until that time we have to work with an imperfect system with often unpredictable results. 

Give all these things serious thought and if you don't mind me suggesting it, pray about it before committing yourself or loved one to a medical procedure.  Then you will be a wise person and find peace in whatever you do.  Thank you for reading this.  

God bless you and yours

Nancy Allen, L.P.N., B.S., M.S.


My nursing school graduation

Tri County Technology Center

Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1981