How One Surgery Changed This One Teen Forever: the Importance of Patient Safety

Op-ed

Patient safety's significance is one of the utmost importance- even for us young adults and Generation Z. According to the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, "Medical errors claim the lives of 3+ million patients every year." Such issues are much more prevalent than one would expect.

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation is here to make a change. "Zero is not just a number – it’s our mission," they share with us.

"The Patient Safety Movement Foundation believes reaching ZERO preventable patient harm and deaths across the globe by 2030 is not only the right goal, but an attainable one with the right people, ideas, and technology."

-Patient Safety Movement Foundation

The Teen Magazine had the chance to interview teenager Scott Polishuk, who penned a moving essay, "How One Surgery Changed My Life." Below, Scott shares with us his story, and the importance of patient safety and its awareness.

Scott's Story

"Hi, my name is Scott Polishuk. I am a 13-year-old boy and I am going to tell you the story of how one surgery changed my life.

When I was two weeks old, I had heart surgery to correct Tetrology of Fallot, a problem with my heart. After the surgery, the place where they opened me got infected. They had to open me again to clear out the infection and I spent a total of 60 days in the NICU.

A year or so later, when I started to walk my parents noticed something strange. We went to the doctor and discovered I had a bad left hip. We learned the infection from my heart surgery traveled to my hip, causing the joint to not grow correctly and giving me a leg length discrepancy.

In 2013 and 2018, I had to have additional surgeries to try to correct this, but the problem persists. Unfortunately, my hip doctor wants me to have another surgery later this year to slow down the growth of the longer leg.

All the surgeries were different. The worst was my first hip surgery. I had to wear a big cast for weeks and the saw that cut it off was loud and scary. The recovery I remember most was the 2018 hip surgery. The worst part was the oral medicine, which tasted awful. In the past year, I have become good at swallowing pills, so maybe I could take medicine this way. I also had to attend school in a wheelchair, which was no fun. As part of my recovery, I was required to do physical therapy, which was difficult because my physical therapist’s style did not work for me; she pushed me and was strict about doing my exercises and trying my hardest. That lasted until June 2019, and when PT ended it was really great!

Having a leg length discrepancy prevents me from playing organized sports. Incredibly, despite my hip, I still do many normal things. I take bike rides, and in a few years, I hope to do a 100+ mile bike ride with my dad. I walk to and around school without much trouble. I do PE and have been getting good grades. My schedule is usually to get up, go to school, come home, do homework, play video games, eat dinner, and go to bed.

Through this experience, I learned that a lot of hospital-acquired infections can be prevented. There are a lot of helpful resources to keep patients safe. The Patient Safety Movement Foundation is a good place to start if you are about to have surgery.

Luckily, I have been able to overcome these issues and lead a pretty normal life, but I hope other kids don’t have to go through what I have."

Thank You, Scott!

Thank you, Scott, for sharing with us your story and experiences and of the great need and importance for patient safety.

Help Make a Difference

For more information on the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, visit patientsafetymovement.org. To read The Teen Magazine's interview with the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, click here.

Special thanks to the Patient Safety Movement Foundation for helping us share words of important change with our young adult audience!

Kate J.
100k+ pageviews

Kate is the Marketing Director of The Teen Magazine.