Lupus & Medicalization

This summer I was enrolled in a Sociology of Health, Medicine and Illness class. Because it was a summer class, the semester was condensed tremendously. In other words, we were given more work to be completed in a shorter period of time (6 weeks). My summer days and summer nights were consumed with term papers, projects, and GRADUATION of course. The tedious tasks I was assigned kept me away from what I loved most, WRITINERRORG.

However, I must say that what I did learn from the class has opened my eyes to a ton of issues within the U.S. health care system. I learned quite a bit about acute and chronic illnesses, as well as medical errors, incidents and accidents, and the term medicalization. I really think that what I learned from the text could be indeed useful and further applied to the studies of the affects this process has on fellow Lupies.  Through the process of medicalization, one could better understand how the medication used to treat Lupus can affect the individuals suffering from the disease, as well as assume the role that medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies supplying the medications play.

Did you know that medical errors happen to be among the top ten causes of death in the United States? A shockingly large number of medical errors have been reported as well as the amount of money it costs Americans per year to cover them up!

According to The Sociology of Health, Illness and Health Care: A Critical Approach, by Rose Weitz, “Between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors in hospitals, and these deaths are due to conducting surgery on the wrong patient, misdiagnosis, and often mistreating of the patient” (Weitz p 35).

I chose to focus this post on the information I learned on medical errors. I was diagnosed with Lupus 3 years ago at a hospital in Tampa, FL., and I can’t help but question whether or not I was misdiagnosed back then, and if I am being mistreated even now. After all, Lupus is a tough disease to pinpoint. Plus, I am on a long list of medications to keep the Lupus under control, but yet none of the meds prescribed tends to make me feel any better-only worse.


Medication Errors

Medication errors are the number 1 out of the top 5 common preventable medical errors. One wrong drug, one wrong dose, one bad combination, one bad reaction. That’s all it takes for things to come crashing down…FAST!

According to the Institute of Medicine, innocent mistakes hurt about 1.5 million people each year when it comes to medications.

But what can you do to protect yourself?

Prepare yourself by asking the hospital staff questions:

  • Ask what you’re taking
  • Ask how much
  • Ask how often
  • Ask why

Once you become comfortable with asking questions, when the time comes for someone from your medical team to administer drugs, you can match your instructions against theirs to make sure it’s the right medication – and the right dose.


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