Find Your Voice as a Patient or Advocate to Reduce Medical Mistakes

The first thing a person should do if they or a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness is consider themselves “unofficially part of their care team,” advises Melissa Mullamphy. “You can’t put a price on advocacy and family.”

As hospitals recover from staffing shortages and other COVID disruptions, it’s more important than ever for patients and their loved ones to find their voices and use them, adds Mullamphy, whose own mother’s cancer battle was fraught with frustration, medical missteps and endless bureaucracy.

Not in Vain, A Promise Kept isMullamphy’s candid account of her mother’s journey and the family’s roller coaster of emotions. Readers will witness the mistakes that compounded their pain, the small victories that gave them hope, and above all, the love that kept them going during an indescribably difficult time.

Each chapter in Not In Vain, A Promise Kept represents one month from her mother’s diagnosis to her passing. Mullamphy recalls the experiences with vivid detail (the names of doctors and nurses have been changed), hoping to prompt others to ask the tough questions and learn by her example.

“My goal in writing this book is to keep the promise that I made to my mom … to share her story so others don’t go through what she and my family went through,” Mullamphy says. “You can have input, control and make a difference in your loved one’s healthcare.”

Mullamphy shares shocking lapses in her mother’s care, including blood clots the doctor fails to notice, the confusion surrounding her mother’s DNR order, the time she found her mother wearing another patient’s bracelet and the unspeakable heartbreak of learning that all along, the hospital had used the wrong type of chemotherapy drug for her mother’s specific cancer.

Not In Vain, A Promise Kept is not without moments of hope, such as when the family is told the tumor has shrunk and when her mother’s last-ditch surgery to remove the tumor is declared “wildly successful.”

Ultimately, Not In Vain, A Promise Kept pays homage to a life well-lived and a woman well-loved, and it’s Mullamphy’s aim to help other patients and their loved ones find their voices, understand their rights and learn how to navigate a deeply complex, imperfect healthcare system.

“Use your voice, and remember that you are not there to make friends,” she adds. “Sometimes you have to be the biggest mouth in the room, but speaking up can save your loved one’s life.”

Author Melissa Mullamphy has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and has worked in psychiatric emergency rooms and step-down houses. Forever a student of mental health, she has also worked with many nonprofits, including those benefiting military veterans. For almost 20 years, she worked as a domestic operations manager for a major corporation. Following her experience with her mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, she began blogging about current events as they relate to healthcare.

To know more about AuthorMelissa Mullamphy