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June 16, 2007

L.A. Hospital Employees Receive Training On 'Their Responsibilities' In Death Of Patient

The AP reports that workers at an inner-city hospital where Edith Isabel Rodriguez, 43, died writhing on the floor vomiting blood last month in the emergency room, have "received training on their responsibilities," and will receive no other penalty, no prosecution.

The hospital has been cited more than a dozen times in 3 1/2 years for inadequate care that has led to patient deaths and injuries, and in the case of Ms. Rodriquez, a security camera showed her being brought to the emergency room lobby by police officers around 1 a.m. When the officers told a nurse that Rodriguez was complaining of stomach pains, the nurse actually told the patient: "You have already been seen and there is nothing we can do." Then, as when she fell out of a wheelchair and as she lay in a fetal position, the nurse told her: "Get off the floor and on to a chair."

Rodrizuez is on the floor vomiting blood in the fetal position writhing in pain and the nurse tells her to "Get off the floor and on to a chair" ? Yet Los Angeles County and its Health Services Director Dr. Bruce Chernof think "letters of expectation" is the proper and sufficient penalty for what amounts to voluntary manslaughter and criminal negligence resulting in the death of a patient?

In their report to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, county health officials said hospital workers in the emergency room at the time of Rodriguez's death received "verbal and/or written counseling" on their responsibilities.
Incredibly, the county health services Director Dr. Bruce Chernof said the ``letters of expectation'' given to the six staff members - which carried no other penalty were appropriate forms of discipline given their previous performance history and their role in the event

... The case stirred public outrage this week with the release of two 911 calls in which her boyfriend and a bystander unsuccessfully pleaded with emergency dispatchers for help:

Six staff members at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital -- including a nurse and two nursing assistants - saw or walked past a dying woman writhing on the floor of the emergency room lobby last month but did not help her, according to a report made public Friday.

Their discipline: a letter outlining how they should behave in the future.

The six are in addition to two others whose roles have already been made public by the Los Angeles Times: a contract janitor who cleaned the floor around the woman as she vomited blood and a triage nurse who oversaw the whole episode and pointedly refused requests to intervene. The janitor was counseled orally; the triage nurse was placed on leave and later resigned, the report said.

... According to the report, the videotape shows that for about 30 minutes, ``staff members walked past the patient or worked to clean the floor next to her without interacting with her. One staff person was observed sitting behind the financial/registration window and had a view of the patient in the lobby.''

Just in case you missed something here, a woman falls to the floor writhing in pain and vomiting blood - in full view of the staff, where she lay for 30 minutes as staff members walk past her, and a janitor actually cleans the floor around her, as she lay dying. And they do nothing to help her!

Dr._Bruce_Chernof.jpgYet, in the mind of Los Angeles County Health Services Director Dr. Bruce Chernof (right image), and I assume the Board of Governors of the L..A. County Health Plan, and Los Angeles County government, as well - "verbal and/or written counseling on their responsibilities" is proper punishment? Why not manslaughter?

According to their own mission statement, the "L..A. County Health Plan" has failed miserably in the case of Edith Isabel Rodriguez.

Their mission statement states (emphasis - mine):

Our Mission

To provide access to quality health care for Los Angeles County's vulnerable and low income communities and residents and to support the safety net required to achieve that purpose.

Our Vision

A healthy community in which all have access to the health care they need.

Our Values

We are committed to the promotion of accessible, high quality health care that:

* Is accountable and responsive to the communities we serve and focuses on making a difference;

* Fosters and honors strong relationships with our health care providers and the safety net;

*Is driven by continuous improvement and innovation and aims for excellence and integrity;

*Reflects a commitment to cultural diversity and the knowledge necessary to serve our members with respect and competence;

*Empowers our members, by providing health care choices and education and by encouraging their input as partners in improving their health;

*Demonstrates L.A. Care's leadership by active engagement in community, statewide and national collaborations and initiatives aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable low income individuals and families; and

*Puts people first, recognizing the centrality of our members and the staff who serve them.

And to think that the hospital, the county board that oversees the hospital, and especially the six employees that allowed Ms. Rodriquez to die on the floor in pain and in full view, are not held criminally responsible is nothing less than ludicrous. If you believe as I do that Dr. Chernof needs to reconsider his decision to not hold the hospital employees criminally responsible, you should consider contacting him and sharing your opinion:
Dr. Bruce A. Chernof, Director

313 North Figueroa Street, Room 912
Los Angeles 90012

(213) 240-810, Fax: (213) 481-0503

Edith Isabel Rodriquez can't ask for the justice she deserves; someone needs to see to it that she gets it. I'm open to any suggestions on who else should be flooded with emails and phone calls, as well. Perhaps Ms. Rodriquez is more likely to receive justice if someone over Chernoff's head is targeted.

Cross posted from Hyscience

Posted by Abdul at June 16, 2007 11:30 AM

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