Yanling Yu speaking for Washington Advocates for Patient Safety 

Last month on July 25, members of the Washington Advocates for Patient Safety (WAPS) commemorated Patient Safety Day in their home state of Washington by joining several people working on health care issues in the state and giving a voice to patients who have experienced preventable medical harm. WAPS has been working hard to raise awareness of patient safety issues in the state of Washington.

Yanling Yu from WAPS gave a speech at the event, excerpted here:

We are here to remember those harmed or lost to medical errors and to show gratitude to those trying to make medicine safer.

Looking around the room, I can see Karie; her son Mark was killed by multiple preventable adverse events including hospital acquired infection; Kimberly, her father was given too much blood thinner (warfarin) at a wrong time, which caused a brain hemorrhage and he died; Dwight, his wife Mary is permanently disabled because of faulty metal-on-metal hip implants.

Here is a picture of my Dad, who was given a drug called Diamox. Despite the hospital pharmacist warning the doctor of life threatening risks due to my Dad’s medical conditions and his history of drug allergy, the doctor told us the drug had no risks. My Dad suffered drug reactions and died in just two weeks after being given the drug.

My Dad did not speak English, so I was his personal interpreter for years.  By caring for him I have learned how important it is for patients with limited English to be able to communicate with their doctors and nurses.  In every case, quality care starts with good communication between healthcare providers and patients.

There are many more patients who have been harmed or killed by medical errors. 

Yanling shared her story with Consumers Union in 2009, about a medication error that led to her father’s death and the Washington medical board’s lack of responsiveness to her complaint. Over the next two years, she teamed up with our Safe Patient Project on a Washington bill to improve the transparency of the medical complaint process, and the bill passed in 2011.