Monday, October 27, 2014

Follow The Money Trail....And You May Find Malpractice....

Recently a woman sued a Chicago area hospital for using improperly sterilized, dirty endoscopes that allegedly inflicted her and as many as 42 other patients with a nasty bacterial infection known as CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae).

This "superbug" is usually contracted in medical facilities, and can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream.

How did this happen? According to a recent article, "manual cleaning and high level disinfection" (whatever that is) failed to remove E-Coli and other bacteria.

Ewwww. Disgusting at a minimum that a used, unsterilized endoscope can find its way into numerous patients AND cause potentially fatal harm.

Despite the presence of the CRE bug in perhaps dozens of patients, the hospital claims there were no lapses of protocols. And despite there being no lapses of protocols, the hospital is now including gas sterilization of its endoscopes.

Now, I'm no expert in how to sterilize all the scopes that are used in volume fashion at a hospital or outpatient facility. But why is the hospital now including more elaborate (and presumably more effective) gas sterilization of its scopes? This is just a guess on my part, but I would suspect that gas sterilization is probably more expensive than manual cleaning, which was considered "good enough"....until this happened.

Bottom line: some "protocols" are more expensive than others. Whether the setting is a hospital or a nursing home, many times the ultimate decision on which policies and procedures to implement comes down to the almighty dollar.

Never forget:  most hospitals and nursing homes are just another form of a big business. Budgets and financials are just as important as other considerations. Although this is not a bad thing per se, when they cause safety shortcuts and cause patient harm, they shouldn't get a free pass from our civil justice system.

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