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Today I report the sad saga of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

As reported by Jamie Stengle of the Associated Press in Forbes, Feds: Parkland conditions a ‘threat’ to patients a Texas hospital has now made the news when federal government agency The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas pointing such serious threats to patient safety that unless immediate corrective action was taken, Parkland would be taken out of the Medicare system by September 2nd.

After a patient died in February the federal agency became concerned about safety and a recent two week inspection by the feds confirmed that Parkland must be placed on "immediate jeopardy" status, the worst finding for a hospital. The areas of immediate concern included infection control.

The Dallas Morning News has reported that George Cornell, a 49-year-old schizophrenic with a heart condition, died after being placed in restrained. He was not monitored by nursing staff and the hospital employees who restrained him lacked training according to the news story.

A number of stories recently have shown the true effects of Texas tort reform in the area of medical malpractice.

Exposing the Perils of Texas Tort Reform, August 11, 2011, By Mark Bello

Does Texas medical malpractice "reform" attract bad doctors?, By Wayne Parsons

Texas Law Capping Medical Malpractice Awards Hasn’t Cut Health Care Costs, July 27, 2011, By Andrew Cochran

Tort Reform and the Risky Perils of Texas Hospitals, August 11, 2011

The latter article is from The Center For Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) and their website on tort law, called The Pop Tort. The head of CJ&D is Joanne Doroshow a fearless advocate for safety and prevention and now a movie star after her role in the new movie sensation HOT COFFEE. The CJ&D story on Texas Hospitals asks the question of when will the public wake up to the perils of tort reform:

Maybe this will finally jolt people into understanding what happens when a state severely reduces a hospital’s accountability for negligence.

Looking at Parkland’s situation we know that 40 percent of Parkland’s funding comes from taxpayers, 16 percent from Medicare and 32 percent from Medicaid. The waste of taxpayer money only increases when treatment leads to injury or death thus costing more taxpayer money. Tort reform will continue to escalate spending on health. The only benefit of Texas medical malpractice reform is to reduce accountability for avoidable medical errors. There are 98,000 deaths each year due to avoidable medical errors and Texas is doing its part to keep those grim statistics at current or higher levels. Parkland is regional center for burns and trauma, and the teaching hospital for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Patients should be able to hold doctors and hospitals fully accountable when avoidable medical errors cause injuries or deaths. Taxpayers should insist that the wrongdoers pay, not the taxpayers. Texas tort reform should be repealed. As a medical malpractice attorney in Hawaii, I hope to never see these laws come to the Islands. A good place to start is for all of the legislators in every state to see the movie HOT COFFEE!

20 Comments

  1. Gravatar for sage

    it would be magnificent if an edified, intelligent person, capable of junior high level grammar and syntax, would approach a sensitive subject with tact and evidence, and objectively present a case with humanist concern. instead, we are left with the ignorant and unfounded ramblings of one who has poached into a subject where he smells profit. from across miles and oceans you offer negativity, misunderstanding the integrity and decency of a hospital offering haves to the have-nots. continue to mine for profits, continue to harass for personal gain...you are a disappointing end of a spectrum of humanity, thanks for fulfilling a philosophical archetype of wanton selfishness that allows us to truly appreciate selflessness.

  2. Thank you for your comment but is the only thing you have to say is that I am bad person? What do you think about the Parkland situation? Is the federal government wrong? Is it okay with you that the patients died? What is your solution to a level of treatment that leads to someone dying by substandard medical care? And what about laws that protect doctors whose work is below the standard of care? Who are you and what view of this system do you have? I wish someone who wants to continue to protect negligent doctors would explain why I am wrong. You won't get very far by simply attack me as a person. If you care about what you say, then what are your facts and arguments? I want to protect patients and save lives. What is your goal?

  3. Gravatar for Cilla Mitchell

    Sage,

    Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. You are entitled to your opinion.

  4. Gravatar for Cilla Mitchell

    Sage:

    I normally would jump at the opportunity to debate a comment like yours, but after reading your reply to Mr. Parson's I realize I don't have much time on earth to waste.

  5. Gravatar for Cilla Mitchell

    Sage:

    If you want credibility to your comments the rules are:

    1. Stick with the subject matter

    2. Avoid personal confrontation

    3. Back your opinions with facts, if at all possible

    4. Use your real name to show you have balls to stand up for what you believe in. Anonymity gives people false courage.

  6. Gravatar for Former

    My suspicion is that there are still several skeletons left to be discovered if surveyors were to dig a little deeper...

  7. Thanks Former. The 98,000 deaths each year is a minimum number because when the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed closed case files they rejected any file where it was close. You sound like someone who cares. What do you think can be done to reduce the injuries from avoidable medical errors? We need to do something about the problem.

  8. Gravatar for Cilla Mitchell

    My suggestion to reduce avoidable medical errors would be, get rid of superfluous documentation. Superfluous documentation bury medical personal beyond belief and take time away from patient care.

    An example: In some facilities when you take a diabetic's blood sugar, you have to chart it in three different places. There have been studies that the more charting, the more likely a lawyer can find errors in the charting.

  9. Thanks Cilla. Your comments are always relevant and geared toward solving problems. Thanks. This good. I want to get some more on ways to cut down on the paperwork.

  10. Gravatar for Former

    My first suggestion is ramping up the electronic recoding process. It is nearing the new norm in most facilities; however, better interface between the multiple systems would reduce a great deal of the repetition. I certainly do not come from an IT background, but to me, that would be a start.

    Reduction of the above would free up a great deal of the care giver's time to be able to more closely monitor their patients. It's certainly sad when one can receive a more catered to service in a hotel, than when you're in a hospital bed, when you need it most.

    Unfortunately, finances do drive many decisions hospital must make. A national healthcare plan is not the answer (my opinion only)as an increased risk of situations such as this one at Parkland will likely increase. There would still be a system of "have's and have not's".

    As with any career, there are folks working in these facilities that just simply do not care. I've observed it myself, having been tied to multiple hospitals around the country, including Parkland.

    HAI's would be my biggest concern if I were a patient going into a hospital. Things to watch for or observe if one becomes a patient: care givers thoroughly washing hands when coming into the room before touching anything in the room, validation that you are the right patient, are proper isolation procedures being followed (do folks go in and out without proper gowning and de-gowning, do those folks touch items when the exit the room before thoroughly washing their hands, is housekeeping doing a thorough job while cleaning the room (wiping all surfaces with disinfectant allowing for proper dwell/kill time per manufacturer's specifications), employee education (unfortunately in many hospitals employees have employees on their staff in service areas that can't read/write English - how exactly are they properly educated?). There are some great ways to measure folks efficiency of cleaning, hand washing, etc in the hospital environment, but unfortunately some of it is held back for fear of offending folks culturally

    The other item that is a concern is the level of apathy I've often observed with staff. This is just a job, I'll do my eight/twelve hours, get paid and get out of here.

    All that being said, there are other folks in these hospital that are complete opposite of the ones I've describe above, so don't get me wrong, going into a hospital isn't an automatic "death sentence". It may be more likened to a game of "Russian Roulette" with a little better odds.

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