Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Free" treatment at American public hospitals can suck too

Particularly in La La land -- where most ERs have been forced to close down to avoid going broke treating swarms of illegals for free. But the notorious L.A. hospital described below is something else again. It has been a disaster for years and the only response has been hand-wringing. Why? Because it is run and staffed almost entirely by blacks so it CANNOT be condemned and closed down. All they've achieved is to change its name! The mainly black patients are the big losers of course. And it's a reminder not to get sick in Africa. If the whole American educational and regulatory apparatus cannot civilize a black hospital, what must hospitals in Africa be like?

An inner-city hospital is struggling to survive amid a new report of breakdowns in patient care, the replacement of its chief medical officer and an ultimatum to correct long-running problems or close. Newly released tapes of 911 calls reveal that a woman who lay bleeding on the floor of the emergency room died last month after dispatchers refused to contact paramedics or an ambulance to take her to another facility. The woman’s treatment was “callous, it was a horrible thing,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke said Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the county Board of Supervisors grilled health officials about conditions at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. It ordered them to return in two weeks with a plan to deal with a hospital shutdown if it is unable to correct deficiencies laid out in a federal inspection that concluded emergency room patients were in “immediate jeopardy.” The federal review was based, in part, on a report that a man with a brain tumor waited four days in the emergency room when he needed to be transferred to another facility for lifesaving brain surgery.

After the inspection last week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the hospital 23 days to correct problems or face a loss of federal funding. That could force it to close.

Burke said the county-run hospital is a crucial facility and that nearby hospitals could not handle its patient load. “I can’t tell you whether it can be fixed but ... the community can not stand to lose another emergency room,” she said.

Dr. Roger Peeks, the hospital’s chief medical officer, was placed on “ordered absence” Monday and replaced on an interim basis by Dr. Robert Splawn, senior medical officer for the county health department. Department spokesman Michael Wilson confirmed the change but declined to elaborate Wednesday, saying it was a personnel matter.

Health officials are “doing everything in our power to help MLK-Harbor meet national standards,” Dr. Bruce Chernof, director of the health department, said in a statement. In a report to the supervisors on Tuesday, Chernof said quality of care had improved but warned that there was no “roadmap” for what he called the most difficult effort to “reinvent a failing hospital” ever undertaken in the United States. The hospital has served “thousands of patients well and a few very poorly,” he said. The hospital, formerly known as King-Drew, was built several years after the 1965 Watts riot to provide medical care in the South Los Angeles area. It has been cited more than a dozen times in 3½ years for inadequate care that has led to patient deaths and injuries.


MRSA endemic in NHS

See also here

A WOMAN who confronted Tony Blair on television over the failings of the National Health Service has lost her father to MRSA, the hospital superbug. During the 2001 election campaign Carol Maddocks described on the BBC’s Question Time programme, where Blair was a panellist, how the health service was letting down her daughter Alice, who had a rare blood condition. Blair later met Maddocks at Downing Street and pledged NHS funding to improve registries of bone marrow donors to help to save Alice’s life.

Now, however, Maddocks has described how Harry Lister, her 74-year-old father, died an agonising death after contracting MRSA following “awful” care in their local hospital. “My father was let down by the NHS and we, as a family, are really angry about it. Society now accepts that when we go into hospital we could contract MRSA, but this should not be a risk we run,” Maddocks said.

Maddocks, a former nurse, had seen many patients die, but she said her father’s death last June was the most horrific she had ever seen. “MRSA had got into my father’s bloodstream and it had taken hold of his whole body, his heart and his other organs,” she said. “I have never witnessed anyone die in so much pain and that will stay with me for ever.”

Lister died of MRSA at Dewsbury and District hospital in June 2006 after going in for examination of a bowel problem. The family say that he contracted the superbug from an endoscope, an instrument used to examine the bowel. Maddocks says that, while in hospital, her father was left to become dehydrated, lay in dirty sheets and the family had to battle with nurses to get him a bath. He told his family that other elderly patients were left unable to eat meals and that nurses congregated round a desk while patients were left without care.

“Although what Tony Blair did for bone marrow registries was extremely positive, that has not been reflected in our experience of the NHS,” said Maddocks. “We feel the care our father received in our local hospital was awful.”

By contrast, Maddocks is happy with the way Alice was treated at the same hospital where Lister died. She did not approach the media to discuss her father’s treatment but the nature of his death emerged while she was being interviewed about Blair’s time in power. Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Dewsbury and District hospital, said that it could not comment on Lister’s death as his medical notes were in transit.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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