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Survive a hospital stay and avoid deadly medical mistakes

The Tennessean, October 18, 2011

Joe and Teresa Graedon give lots of healthcare advice in their syndicated column, "The People's Pharmacy," and on their National Public Radio show by the same name. He's a pharmacologist, and she's a medical anthropologist. The Durham, NC, residents have written more than 14 books on topics from herbal remedies to deadly drug interactions. They should know how to get the best medical care. But in 1996, Joe's 92-year-old mother, Helen, died as the result of errors made at Duke Hospital. Joe Graedon thought he had been a good advocate. He stayed by his mother's bedside and repeatedly told her caregivers that she couldn't tolerate morphine and other narcotics. But in the end, he said, "You have to trust the doctor." He felt guilty about not being able to protect her. But soon that guilt turned to action. He and his wife reconstructed the steps leading to Helen Graedon's death, and that story opens their new book.