• Las Vegas Sun finds 969 preventable injuries at local hospitals over two years Monday, June 28, 2010

    Las Vegas SunA two-year investigation by Las Vegas Sun reporters Marshall Allen and Alex Richards uncovered 969 instances of “preventable injuries, life-threatening infections or other harm” in Las Vegas hospitals, just in the years 2007 and 2008.

    Details are in their report “Health Care Can Hurt You” published June 27 as the first part of a series about Las Vegas hospital care titled “Do No Harm.”  Sun editor Brian Greenspun writes:

    …as far as we can tell, no one else—not government, not the hospital industry, not any other media—has done the kind of hospital-by-hospital analysis that Marshall and Alex are writing about today, examining how patients run the risk of being harmed by the very hospitals they turn to for healing.  That patients fall ill, are injured or are seriously infected while in a hospital flies in the face of a fundamental principle for health care providers:  First, do no harm.

    Here are some of the cases Allen and Richards expand on in their report:

    Rosie Powell’s surgeon removed a mass from the 74-year-old’s abdomen, thinking it was a cancerous tumor.  It was a healthy kidney.

    Donna Wendt’s windpipe was torn during insertion of a breathing tube.  Oxygen was pumped into her chest cavity instead of her lungs, bloating her.  She couldn’t be saved.

    Tyrone Bush developed gaping, bone-deep bedsores on his buttocks and heels while recovering from heart surgery.  Two years later, he can barely walk.

    Morry Janovitz was a day from being released from the hospital when he was found on the floor of his room with a broken neck.  He suffered for months from the complications before dying.

    Allen and Richards found a total of 475 cases of bloodstream infections involving central-line catheters…in just a 731-day period.  There were 79 cases of a patient developing advanced-stage pressure sores and 21 cases where a foreign object was left in a body after surgery.

    Since no comparative data exists, it’s impossible to accurately evaluate whether Las Vegas hospitals are below average or not.  But Allen and Richards reached this conclusion:

    Hospital insiders tell the Sun that a dangerous culture of mediocrity has become the status quo.  Profits, they say, come before patients.

    Those who feel there are too many medical negligence lawsuits should know the easiest way to reduce the number of those suits is to reduce the amount of medical negligence.  The Las Vegas Sun report underscores how much work needs to be done in that regard.

    (The Sun series brings to mind Hearst Newspapers’ extensive report that ran last year, “Dead By Mistake,” that told tale after tale of preventable hospital errors with tragic results.)

    –J.G. Preston

  • Patient safety lags, years after study shows 98,000 needless deaths
  • California hospitals report more than 1,500 “serious and preventable events”
  • Preventable hospital errors kill 180,000 Americans a year
  • Fourteen California hospitals penalized for serious medical errors
  • “Hospitals in California have an economic incentive to encourage families to pull the plug”

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