Lynn R. Parker, RN – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Every year in America medical errors (the mistakes made by doctors and others) take over 100,000 lives! Hundreds of patients die needlessly, everyday because they didn’t understand what thedoctor said or how to make safe healthcare decisions.

What Did The Doctor Just Say? How to Understand What Your Doctor is Saying and Prevent Medical Errors From Happening to You and Your Loved Ones will help you avoid falling victim to medical error by teaching you how to understand what the doctor says and how to ensure he understood you, too. Once you and the doctor are “speaking the same language” you will be able to ask questions and gather the information you need to make high quality, safe healthcare decisions.

Through the use of structured question sets you will learn: how to hire a good doctor and fire a bad one, how to manage your illnesses and to take your medications safely, you will learn how to choose the best hospitals, and much more.

Written in plain English by an experienced educator who knows the difficulty over 40 million people have understanding the medical language, “What Did The Doctor Just say?” is an informative, easy to read guide to patient safety that could help to save your life. This book is a must for anyone interested in safe healthcare.

Tell us something about yourself.

My name is Lynn Parker and I have been a registered nurse, nurse practitioner and patient advocate for over twenty years. I have worked in the areas of obstetrics, internal medicine, oncology, pain management, natural and alternative medicine and end-of-life care. I have worked in large university medical centers, community hospitals, doctors’ offices and out-patient clinics.

Throughout my varied and diverse career I have found all healthcare settings have one thing in common – and that one thing is medical error. You can rest assured, wherever medical care is delivered medical errors occur. I have seen the tragedy of medical error with my own eyes and it has deeply affected me both personally and professionally.

What inspired you to write this book?

I first became aware of medical error many years ago when I was 17 years old, a senior in high school. One day after school my close friend Yvonne and I went to my house to hang out. Suddenly Yvonne began having a sickle cell crisis. She was suffering and in horrible pain, she desperately needed oxygen, fluids and a blood transfusion.

The trouble began – and ended – when she was given the wrong type of blood at the hospital. Yvonne died later that afternoon from a violent transfusion reaction.

Soon after I entered nursing a young mother I had been working with and befriended was scheduled for a C-Section. The day before her surgery we eagerly anticipated the birth of her third little girl. We laughed and giggled as we talked about meeting her beautiful new daughter in the morning, however, that was not to be. During the surgery she received too much anesthesia and was left-brain dead. Three days later her family made the decision to remove her from life support. She left behind two small children, a newborn and a husband to grieve her for the rest of their lives. My heart still breaks every time I think of her.

Over the years I have witnessed the horror of hundreds of medical errors. My response has been to educate my patients about their conditions and the kind of care suggested by best practice standards and recommended in the national guidelines.

I taught and still do teach my patients how to ask their doctors questions and to investigate the answers they are given so that they – the patients themselves – can actively participate in making healthcare decisions that are safe and meet their unique needs, choices that are right for them.

And then one day in 2007 I found myself caring for a patient who came into the hospital for what was supposed to be a simple surgery and the expectation of being discharged in within two days. When I met him three months later he lay in a hospital bed unable to walk, talk, move or breathe on his own, because he had fallen victim to multiple medical errors.

At that point I just couldn’t take what I was seeing anymore. I felt like screaming and crying all at once. I had to do something to help prevent the tragedy of medical error from happening to as many people as I could. Something came over me I went home that night and began writing what is now known as, What Did The Doctor Just Say?

I wrote this book because I don’t want to see anymore medical errors, or patients whose lives are ruined and even ended by them. I wrote this book because I want to help prevent as many medical errors as I possibly can and I believe this book will help me to do just that.

How did you publish this book?

I published through iUniverse, an assisted self publishing company. To tell you the truth I never thought of submitting my book to a traditional publishing house. It just never occurred to me. I liked the idea that in assisted self publishing because there was no approval process. I knew I was a strong enough writer because of my experiences in graduate school and I knew I could write at a level fit for publication. I felt strongly that the world needed to hear what I had to say–and I really do want to help save 100,000 people from medical errors–so I just went for it on my own. I wanted to own my first book. The ones that will follow I don’t know if I will be as attached to them, but I am very attached to this one as she is my first born book.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I didn’t ever think about being a writer. I am a very active person and when my Mom got sick and I took off to take care of her I had time on my hands and I decided to write a book. So I took an online course on how to write a book and went for it. This book is the result of that time I was allotted to be with my Mom and a deep desire to stop medical errors.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Separating myself from loved ones and activities, being disciplined, working alone, working against time, knowing that at some point I would have to go back to my job and the time to write would be over, rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and rereading and rereading, and rereading were also very trying but well worth the effort

How do you do research for your books?

It was all done on the internet. Twenty four pages of reference and they were all from the internet.

My research includes government reports and suggested actions for patients and providers to keep patients safe and it was all available on the web.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned that I was a very determined person, that I had a great deal of knowledge, that I had seen and experienced things the non medical person had no idea even existed. I learned that I have a lot of information to share and I learned about the publishing process.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I read mostly self help and spiritual books, thats been my interest, my favorite author, Lousie Hay, althoughMaya Angelou was my first love, Zora Neely Hurston is a treasure and Langston Huges are great too.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Not yet. I have 10 book titles in the computer but I haven’t started on any of them yet. I want to write about what happens to a woman after the death of her mother because it changed my heart so much. In talking to other women who lost their mothers we all seem to have similar transformations so I want to write about that. Like I said, I have 9 other ideas besides that. Probably the most provactive will be the one about spiritual love making.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

That it will be worth it, hang in there. Its an amazing rush to hold your book in your hand, so just keep going. I would say print it out and look at it on paper, work in the computer looks a lot different on paper than it does on paper.

And I would say look at your sales and marketing plan during the writing process and begin to plan your marketing before you hold the book so that when you do get it you are ready to go. And expect to work harder to sell the book than to write the book. In retrospect writing the book was a piece of cake, selling it is the challenge. Expect to work really hard after the book is published

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I have a Facebook page and a blog which I update regularly. I Twitter and I’m working with senior centers and libraries to get the word out to seniors and caregivers because they are my largest market. Everyone who visits a doctor or a hospital has a 1 in 4 chance of being hurt by a medical error, but young people don’t understand their risks. I am using press releases and I post on relevant blogs so folks who are reading about my medical errors or healthcare reform can see me and my title on the posting.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

You can find What Did the Doctor Just Say? How to Understand What Your Doctor is Saying and Prevent Medical Errors From Happening to You and Your Loved Ones on