Complications of care can often cascade

Joan landed in the hospital for the third time in two months after the latest in a series of complications following what had been expected to be a simple medical procedure. This time, her leg had broken in a fall at home as an aide was assisting her in getting into the shower.

She reported, "The doctor was able to set it. He put on a brace, not a cast. He said if he put a cast on, it would weigh a hundred pounds and I'd never walk again," because it would add so much weight and make Joan so lopsided.

Side effects of medication can take years to show up

Lawrence was 67 and newly retired from his job as a high school principal in New Mexico when he landed in the hospital with a heart attack. His doctors put him on a drug to control cholesterol. He felt lucky to be alive. He continued on the drug month after month without any problems.

Four years later, his health took a turn for the worse. He developed a rash all over his body. Doctor after doctor found his symptoms puzzling.

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