Friday, October 23, 2009


During the state hearings this week I heard, as I have heard in the past, hospitals and professional associations of medical groups tell about their wonderful services and patient safety practices. These hearings, I learned were triggered by a series by the NY Daily News this summer of problems related to the safety of patient care in New York. (see below for the articles).

I often wonder why the people involved don’t use this opportunity to explain why they have problems. After all, we all know there are problems – too bad it’s the media who has to expose them. Imagine if the leadership actually asked for help? If someone can do better, let them try.

Imagine if just once we heard someone say “Yes, my hospital has serious infection control problems. We don’t have money to pay for people to fill the hand sanitizer and often run out of antibacterial lotion without enough money to fill them. We have patients who speak 100 different languages and need more people to help translate. We need better security to be sure family members are not bringing in outside food, flowers or clothing that may carry germs or may not be appropriate for the patient’s care. We need better training and more money to go to conferences and learn what is new in the rest of the country. Our nurses are overworked and the patient’s are unhappy with these ugly, backless gowns. Patients are supposed to be our “partners” but who is training them to participate in their care?”

Would someone lose their job for being honest? Maybe, but if the next person can get the job done isn't that really what everyone wants? Or maybe, if no one can make hospital safer the way things are, the problems can finally be addressed.

Instead we hear that everything is done right, training is appropriate and if only a small percentage of people were injured or harmed, it still would be in the hundreds. Which is more of a reason to aim for a zero tolerance of unplanned death or injuries.

Daily News investigates faked records and fatal blunders at city-run hospitals

Hospital's records were 'altered and rendered illegible' in patient's death

Lincoln Hospital specializes in hiding fatal errors

Bellevue Hospital tipped-off to safety inspection; discharged patients, massaged records

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