Nurses’ Murder Game

Catherine Wood and Gwen Graham – Two nurses who together picked victims whose combined initials, if murdered in the correct order, would spell out “murder” in what they called their “Murder Game.” They picked easy targets, elderly women who were weak. When their victims fought back harder than expected the nurses gave up – temporarily. If a couple of patients complained that nurses were trying to kill them, Wood and Graham knew no one would believe them. But if more than that did they worried they might get in trouble so they stopped. Until they saw that none of their victims complained. Wood and Graham learned that they were free to hone their skills through trial and error until they figured out how to do it, because none of their victims complained.

“The Problem is Patients Don’t Complain”

I have heard people in medicine say that this example shows that the problem is that patients don’t bring their concerns to the authorities. That’s the providers perspective. I have not seen anyone anywhere in medicine express awareness of what it says about complaint mechanisms in medicine when even victims of attempted strangulation were not heard from.

See Gedz for a patient’s perspective

Patients are asked to complain to the very intitutions that injured, or even betrayed, them. Caregivers have friends and connections there. Patients do not. A patient who still is lucid must worry about what might happen next as a result of complaining.

There is no appreciation in medicine for what an imposing and unified monolith medicine is to a patient trying to complain about a member of that profession. Say that to someone in medicine and they scoff, which is the very first syllable of “unified and imposing.”

Blacklisting, for one thing

Medicine is not interested in the predicament of patients with complaints and learns nothing from examples like these. It dismisses them as one-offs if it believes them at all. If they were interested in the predicament of patients they would have gotten liability limitations for patients at the same time they were getting them for themselves. And rather than taking away the last resort of patients with them, they would establish a legitimate complaint process. There is no legitimate complaint mechanism in medicine, only pretenses of such. To say nothing of the vacuum of law enforcement in medicine. Medicine is so insensitive to the experience of patients that it has no appreciation for how complaining comes back to haunt patients.

Doctors can call state medical boards that are run by and for doctors. Nurses can call nursing boards that represent nurses. Hospitals have hospital associations. Patients have who? No one. If you don’t understand that already, see OSMB and Complain (both link to pages on this site).

This is how patient safety is handled when healthcare providers have the ultimate authority over how safe patients will be. The words “complaint” or “lawsuit” frequently are modified by the word “frivolous” when uttered by people in medicine. Patients need someone outside of medicine to complain to about medicine. There needs to be institutions representing patients. State Patients’ Boards should be one.