Las Vegas Sun

May 25, 2019

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Sun investigation reveals flaws in hospital care; solutions offered

Today’s is the fifth and final installment of the Sun’s series, “Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas.” But because the series has confronted the hospital system, regulators and elected officials with evidence of the need for change, the Sun will continue to focus next year on health care and patient safety.

The series published over the past six months was built on the Sun’s analysis of 2.9 million hospital billing records that had not been publicly disclosed. The data revealed injuries, infections and surgical mishaps suffered by patients in Las Vegas hospitals — totaling 3,689 in 2008 and 2009 — breaking down by facility the number of incidents of harm. In 356 of the incidents, patients died in the facilities. (It’s impossible to tell from hospital billing records how or whether the incidents factored in the patients’ deaths)

The series first reported the number of preventable injuries, life-threatening infections or other harm and hospitals’ efforts to keep them from the public.

Next, the Sun examined more closely the proliferation of “superbugs” in Las Vegas hospitals. During 2008 and 2009, patients were infected with drug-resistant bacteria 2,010 times.

The newspaper’s investigation then turned to surgical mishaps, finding 710 accidental punctures or lacerations during operations in local hospitals.

Most recently, the Sun explored the fundamental causes of these problems, including staffing issues, ineffective oversight, unwillingness within hospitals to learn from mistakes, and the absence of an academic medical center to raise the bar of excellence in Las Vegas.

Today, the Sun looks at possible solutions to the problems reported in these stories, including efforts by doctors and nurses in other states to make hospital patients safer and proposals in Nevada that will be debated by legislators and others in coming months.

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