‘To Err Is Human’ Initiative Set A Goal Of Curbing Preventable Medical Errors 20 Years Ago. But Hospitals Are Still Struggling.
“Everyone sat up and said: ‘Wow, we’re not very good. Not only are we very expensive, we kill a lot of people,’ ” recalled Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at University of California at San Francisco, who who has written about patient safety issues for years. Many of the report’s ambitious goals, such as creating a reliable system of measuring errors, have yet to be realized. In other news on hospitals: debilitating lawsuits, financial struggles at rural facilities, infant deaths from contaminated equipment, and more.
Hospitals Fall Short Of Patient Safety Goals 20 Years After 'To Err Is Human'
At Signature Health, a safety-net hospital in Brockton, Mass., daily huddles take place at every staff shift change to discuss mistakes and near-misses. The goal is to raise awareness and anxiety about errors. In 2010, CEO Kim Hollon implemented the Lean method of process improvement throughout his organization. He added a safety-management system three years ago to improve how staffers think while performing potentially dangerous tasks, to protect both patients and themselves from harm. Among other things, that led to staff more consistently using patient bar codes during medication dispensing, which they would sometimes skip to save time. (Meyer, 11/9)
The New York Times:
With Medical Bills Skyrocketing, More Hospitals Are Suing For Payment
When a judge hears civil cases at the courthouse in this southwest Virginia town two days a month, many of the lawsuits have a common plaintiff: the local hospital, Ballad Health, suing patients over unpaid medical bills. On a Thursday in August, 102 of the 160 cases on the docket were brought by Ballad. Among the defendants were a schoolteacher, a correctional officer, a stay-at-home mother and even a Ballad employee — all of whom had private insurance but were still responsible for a large share of their bill, the result of large deductibles and co-payments. (Kliff, 11/8)
Rural Kansas Loves Its Hospitals, But Keeping Them Open Only Gets Harder
Shrinking populations mean fewer patients. Those who remain are typically older, poorer and sicker, making them more expensive to treat. Many people in rural areas also lack health insurance. In some southwest Kansas counties, the uninsured rate approaches 19%, more than twice the statewide rate of 8.5%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Mismanagement along with state and federal policies also figure in the mix. Congress ordered cuts in Medicare payments in 2011 to trim the federal deficit and Kansas lawmakers have rejected the expansion of Medicaid the last several years. (McLean, 11/9)
Top White House Adviser Says Hospital Price Transparency Rule Coming Soon
The Trump administration could release a proposed rule that aims to force hospitals to disclose payer-negotiated rates before the end of the year, White House Domestic Policy Council chief Joe Grogan said Friday. "Hopefully we will have another announcement this month, maybe in December, but I am hopeful this month, that is going to gore a lot of oxen," Grogan told reporters at a briefing hosted by the Alliance for Health Policy. (Cohrs, 11/8)
The New York Times:
Deaths Of 3 Infants Traced To Contaminated Equipment, Hospital Says
The infants at the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., neonatal intensive care unit were tiny, with some born 27 weeks premature. In July, some started to get ill. One by one, the number of sick babies climbed to eight. Between August and September, bacterial infections claimed the lives of three of them. At a news conference last month, officials at the hospital, which is about 150 miles northwest of Philadelphia, said they were at a loss about the source of the infections. (Ortiz, 11/8)
The Washington Post:
3 Infants Dead After Bacteria Infections From Donor Breast Milk At Geisinger Hospital
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve seen a lot, and I have not seen conduct like this from a medical provider,” said Matt Casey, a Philadelphia-based lawyer representing Cepeda’s parents, as well as another family who lost one of their twins. Casey says findings that Geisinger’s breast milk measurement materials led to the infections have reinforced his belief that Geisinger — which runs sites around Pennsylvania — was negligent both in cleaning its equipment and in taking steps to save lives once red flags surfaced. (Knowles, 11/8)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Hospitals’ Patient Classification System Can Add Hundreds Of Dollars To Your Bill
Whether you are classified as an observation patient or an inpatient can make a big difference to your hospital bill, especially for people on Medicare. Depending on health insurance, outpatients can wind up paying more for X-rays, prescriptions and lab tests in the hospital. (Washington, 11/10)
Second Major Hospital Chain Agrees To Pay Millions To Resolve Concerns Over Concurrent Surgery
For the second time this week, a major hospital chain has agreed to pay millions of dollars to resolve a lawsuit related to concurrent surgery, the controversial practice in which a doctor oversees more than one operation at a time. Northwell Health of New York agreed to pay $12.3 million to settle a claim by the federal government and three whistle-blowers that Dr. David Samadi, a former urologist at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, allowed trainees to perform surgery without proper supervision while he operated on patients in another room. (Saltzman, 11/8)