Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Punish or Fix America’s Healthcare Facilities

A nurse who is involved in patient safety commented on Facebook that a local hospital is “closing their OB/GYN services. They are a remote town, downeast just over the border.”
She went on to explain “This closure puts pregnant women in danger. I hope the people downeast fight this one tooth and nail.”  

I felt the need to comment on that post and ask: Isn’t this what people who lose loved ones from a medical error want? If they were injured because of the care they received, don’t they want to see regulatory agencies close the doors?  Could it be that a wrong medication, an infection, or a baby born with disabilities was the start of that facility closing the doors to the thousands of patients they serve?

I get it. When my son died I wanted the doctors fired, the hospitals closed and the investigation (if there ever was one) made public.  Now, many years later, I want clinicians, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabs to do better, not close down. I don’t want to see jobs lost and people die from no available care.

The agencies that review patients’ charts, investigate complaints and inspect facilities are not the reason for the problems.  The problems come from the people who are overworked and making mistakes.  Still, are they to blame?  Isn’t it the system (run by people) really to blame?

I know many people want the oversight agencies that inspect, review and fine facilities to make their records public.  I could understand a government-run agency such as our state Department of Health doing that.  After all, it is government-run and I want to know what my government is doing for me.  As for other agencies that may be involved in fixing the problem, why do we need to know the details of the problems when — I hope — we just want them fixed?  If there are fewer infections at one hospital, does that mean another, best-graded hospital has no infections?  I can’t believe that the public thinks that if a hospital was found to be spotless, a nurse can’t injure a patient with the wrong medication.  What about a nursing home that shows no bedsores and reports of low infection rates; does that mean there aren’t patient falls each year with broken bones?

Why is there such insistence that organizations that inspect, survey or grade hospitals report their findings?  Why aren’t hospitals and nursing homes themselves required to report to the public directly?  Three days since our last injury from a fall!  Two days since our last surgical site infection!  Only three wrong site surgeries this year!  Just two deaths from medication errors this year!

Imagine if the hospital, nursing home other healthcare facilities started to share their data with those of us who pay for their service?  Who would really come out on top?


Ilene Corina is the President of Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy a community based patient safety organization located in New York. 

Contact Ilene Corina: or (516) 579-4711