Las Vegas Sun

April 27, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Hospital employees should be vigilant

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A recent report, “Call to Action: Safeguarding the Integrity of Healthcare Quality and Safety Systems” is tragically revealing. The report cites incidence of hospital mismanagement, intimidation and retaliation against those who complain and staff whistle-blowers.

In one hospital, the most profitable surgeon had complication and mortality rates two to three times the national average. A staffer who complained to administration about it was asked to resign.

The 1999 Institute of Medicine report estimated that over 70,000 patients die every year in our country’s hospitals as a result of preventable errors. Further, a health care watchdog organization found 65 percent of hospitals do not have recommended policies in effect to prevent common infections. And 75 percent do not meet the standards for some practices, beginning with hand washing.

Some hospitals and doctors are guilty of premeditated health code violations. Such criminal actions are punishable under Nevada law.

The Sun’s prize-winning series “Do No Harm” found our own hospitals needed improvements. I salute the Sun for its vigilance in protecting our health and well-being. And I praise and encourage hospital staffers (anonymous when possible) and hospital whistle-blowers to continue exposing hospital health violations. The Hippocratic Oath is the standard all hospitals and doctors are to live by with patients.

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  1. Bravo! Great letter Mr. Dinkins. I concur 100%.

    This is the price of corporate for profit hospitals and insurance industry control of our healthcare system. Workers and patients have no power or voice.

    Only a single payer universal healthcare system has the possibility of cleaning up the mess we have now.

  2. Peacelily said it well to which I would add this: We, as a country, need to treat and recognize healthcare as a societal service rather than just another business.

  3. You have to measure it to manage it. Sadly, these hospital errors/shortcomings are not universally tracked and monitored except on an as needed basis for report purposes and site visits. Unless and until these conditions are made a part of the overall hospital managerial operational oversight, things won't change. In fact they will get worse.


  4. What the letter writer is describing has been going on for years. Our health care system and financial services industry are totally corrupt. It's all about greed and maximizing profits. Nothing more.

    The infection rates, the ratio of nurses per patient in many hospitals is appalling. But they have no qualms about sending out the million-dollar hospital bill.

  5. Many hospitals don't want to pay the benefits required for full-time nursing staff. They contract out the nursing function in the hospital. Especially in emergency rooms. You have nurses working in different hospitals nearly every day. They don't even know where the supplies are. People aren't able to work harmoniously together because they don't even know each other.This affects the quality of patient care especially in a life-threatening emergency

    Here's one out of LA that just hit the wire. Maybe if a surgeon has a highly infectious skin condition he shouldn't have his hand inside people's chests. Cedars is one of the better hospitals.

  7. Bradley's comment about Navy corpsmen not withstanding (and I agree 100% with him on that) there is no guarantee that a government run single-payer system would be any better. One has only to remember the fiasco at Walter Reed to see that serious problems could (and probably would) still be present.

    As wonderful as many VA hospitals can be, one can still hear horror stories about treatment plans and staff.

    Whether it be a private or public facility, there is ever increasing pressure applied to control costs brought about by not only the skyrocketing costs of medicine itself and equipment, but the sheer amount of new treatments/procedures that must be supported.

    It should come as no surprise that if one has no choice but to pay higher prices for those items, then corners will be cut elsewhere.

  8. Bradley makes very good points about military medical personnel.

    Some of the best surgeons got their experience in military hospitals during a war. The wounds are so severe that they get experience other doctors don't get.

    Non-physician medical personnel can turn their experience into becoming physicians, or physician's assistants who have a good deal of responsibility.

    If I had a choice of a surgeon, it would be one who served in a war zone.

    In general, hospitals in the DOD system have had a good reputation for quality care and training.

    Carmine, as far as measuring and managing goes, there is so much measuring and analysis in hospitals and insurance companies that it is beyond belief.

    The problem resides with the insurance companies, hospital and physician committee management that decides on what action to take. The problem is when they have profits or hospital and professional reputations to protect, over the patients welfare, as well as staffing and training. Even the potential for lawsuits is of lesser importance.

    Action will probably be taken when there is money to save versus increased cost. The latter gets ignored or denied.

    boftx, thorough worldwide studies have shown that the quality of healthcare services, life expectancy and less medical errors are best in most of the industrialized countries with universal healthcare. The US does not rate as good as people think.

    At the moment, because of the austerity measures that the EU has undertaken, the universal systems are being cut back, more or less depending on the country, so it isn't a good time to measure. Under normal economic times, we don't measure up by comparison, except in one area...cancer treatment.

    That may change with cuts to Medicare and in private insurance companies by limiting services and treatments in policy benefits to increase profits. I would expect our statistics will change. Also, people may not be able to afford the best policies, and have to settle for a more limited benefit structure.

    The price of a US life related to profits and cost savings. They can determine who lives and who dies.

    That is one of the reasons I support a patients right to choose euthanasia over debilitating tortuous pain until they die a "natural" death. I also think there needs to be an appropriate evaluations and a determination made as to the validity of such a choice over available treatments.

    There is so much gaming of the costs across all of healthcare and it is only controlled to a limited degree in some areas because we don't have a universal healthcare system. At the moment, the federal government is best at controlling costs through a very complex process. I can't even imagine how much healthcare would cost without Medicare and the DOD, both of which have the better quality and cost control than private insurance.

  9. "Carmine, as far as measuring and managing goes, there is so much measuring and analysis in hospitals and insurance companies that it is beyond belief." @ peacelily

    I believe these areas of hospital and doctor care [mistakes, errors, oversights in hygiene, etc] are not consistently monitored and reported by hospitals separately and collectively. Except when an outside review and/or site visit is made [for cause]. At that point, the damage is already done.

    If you measure and manage proactively and on an ongoing basis, and report to the PUBLIC, there is less likelihood that these occurences will continue. And more importantly increase and become problematic. Look at Dr. Desai! Who was measuring and managing the reuse of needles at his clinics?