Hospital overhauls patient safety plan after serious breach

It's the letter that no hospital ever wants to send out--the letter that patients may be at risk for injury or even death because of a hospital patient safety error. Dallas's Parkland Memorial Hospital in March 2010 sent letters to 73 female patients that they may have come into contact with improperly sterilized instruments, reports the Associated Press.

An employee reported that hospital instruments were picked up before proper cleaning. Parkland then notified patients, offering preventative care and advising at-risk patients to abstain from intercourse six months after follow up.

Following the safety lapse, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in July investigated Parkland Memorial Hospital, whose multimillion-dollar Medicare and Medicaid funding is at risk, reports KDAF-TV.

CMS and the Texas Department of State Health Services found that Parkland's noncompliance with safety standards pose an "immediate and serious threat to patient health and safety," according to the Parkland website statement.

Parkland is using this error as an opportunity to overhaul its patient safety plans. The 600-page government report found that emergency room staff gave patients who were in severe pain maps to find other parts of the hospital for treatment, as well as a nurse failed to change bed linens between patients, and children complaining of illness sent home without medical screenings, reports WFAA.

"We've taken some public hits. I know there are nay-sayers, people who want to suggest a different solution than Parkland. They are right in that we are not perfect. We own up to the fact that there are problems we must fix and improvements we need to make. We must push every day to be better," said CEO Dr. Ron J. Anderson in an Aug. 10 letter.

"[W]e will continue to be more transparent and live up to our vision statement: 'by our actions we will define excellence in public academic medical centers,'" he said.

Since then, Parkland's correction plan includes hiring at least 10 more nurses, ensuring physicians are on call for emergencies, creating new emergency room policies, enforcing infection control, and implementing daily and weekly performance audits, according to WFAA.

Parkland has until Sept. 2 to make changes before losing Medicare and Medicaid funding, according to the article.

For more information:
- read the AP article
- read the KDAF-TV article
- check out the WFAA article
- here's the Parkland statement
- here's the CEO letter

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