Nancy Oliver became a patient safety activist when her father passed away after suffering from hospital-acquired infections. Her father had successful heart bypass surgery following a mild heart attack. Her family had been told that because he was relatively healthy and his heart had not been severely damaged by the heart attack, her dad had a 98% chance of a good outcome. Despite these assurances, four days after his surgery, he was admitted to the intensive care unit and went into a crisis. He suffered septic shock, and he was critically ill on life support for nearly a month. He was placed on a ventilator, a central line, a feeding tube, and he had many drains and tubes that nearly filled his small hospital room. The family discovered that he had suffered an infection with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in his surgical site that spread to his bloodstream. The surgeon who performed the heart surgery told the family that his infection “was the kind you get in a hospital.” Nancy’s dad was eventually released from the hospital in an ambulance and was sent to a rehabilitation center to complete his course of drug therapy and to try to regain his strength. At some point during this time, he developed a debilitating infection with Clostridium difficile (C diff.) Unfortunately, he soon became ill with pneumonia, again went into septic shock, and passed away.
Nancy became a patient safety advocate and works on various committees in Ohio striving to curtail the incidence of hospital-acquired infections. Her efforts include serving with many others who developed hospital-specific quality measures now reported in Ohio, including the incidence of some hospital-acquired infections. She can be reached at [email protected]