ED physician avoided care for low-income patients

A doctor at a hospital in Illinois has been found by a state appeal board to have avoided treating low-income people in its emergency department by minimizing their complaints. The case arises out of a legal dispute involving the former emergency department manager, Theresa Tuvera. Tuvera was denied unemployment benefits by Davis County Hospital (Bloomfield, IA) on allegations that she had committed misconduct, allegedly because she gave Dr. Dorothy Cline-Campbell incorrect information on an incoming 15-year-old with a blood clot in his leg. The doctor, who saw the boy the next day, alleged in a written complaint that she didn't realize how sick he was, and that Tuvera had falsified hospital records to cover up mistakes on her own part. Tuvera was then asked to choose between being fired and resigning.

In her appeal, Tuvera suggested that it was Cline-Campbell who did wrong. In a phone conversation with Tuvera regarding the boy, she said, Cline-Campbell declined to authorize ED treatment for the boy, allegedly saying that "these people need to stop coming to the emergency room." The Employment Appeal Board later concluded that this comment was referring to patients covered by Title 19, a program which provides care for the state's poor and uninsured.

The problems come as part of larger ED care issues for the facility. Prior to this incident, state inspectors had visited the hospital, randomly selecting 25 ED files, and concluded that patients were put at risk because they hadn't been adequately examined. Cline-Campbell, in particular, has also been accused of failing to respond promptly enough to calls from the ED, leaving patients to wait for hours.

To learn more about the case:
- read this Des Moines Register article

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