Your Hospital is Not Invisible

John Commins, March 14, 2012

With apologies to John Donne, no hospital is an island.

It doesn't matter if your hospital is in midtown Manhattan or Manhattan, KS. It doesn't matter how many licensed beds you have or how high you scored with HealthGrades. If you've got problems at your hospital—from labor disputes, to HIPAA violations, to dirty sheets—you'd better be prepared to have answers for the government, public advocacy groups, plaintiffs' attorneys, and the news media.

In the era of the Internet, specialized trade journalism, and the 24-hour news cycle, every misstep is a headline waiting to happen.     

That was apparent this week when Washington, DC-based Public Citizen issued an alarming press release detailing potentially dangerous infection risks at one Wyoming hospital located 1,849 miles due west of the nation's capitol.

According to Public Citizen, 88-bed Sheridan Memorial Hospital made a decision to stray from the manufacturer's guidelines and failed to adequately sterilize reusable laryngeal mask airways. As a result, "several hundred patients" were potentially exposed to assorted infectious viral and bacterial agents between May and November of 2011.  

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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