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Parkland Hospital Audits Raise Troubling Questions

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 29, 2011

The egregious lapses in patient safety and basic hygiene at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, TX have been the subject of well-deserved and very negative reviews this summer from the state and federal government and from the news media. Just read some of the astonishing deficiencies detailed in the state and federal audits – a combined 600 pages – and it's hard not to get angry, if not horrified.

The CMS report may be viewed here
The Texas report may be viewed here.

As HealthLeaders Media's Margaret Dick Tocknell pointed out last week, the sweeping deficiencies among nine broad categories at Parkland include:

  • Failure to dispose of soiled gloves and gowns and wash hands after treating patients
  • Failure to properly dispose of infectious waste, including used syringes, body fluids, used respiratory equipment and used suction equipment
  • Lack of stabilizing treatment in emergency department before a transfer to another acute care facility
  • Lack of ER screening by a qualified medical professional
  • Failure to identify or assess emergency severity index
  • Medical residents unsupervised during clinical care by either an attending physician or faculty member
  • ER patients in a high level of pain provided with maps and directed to go to other parts of the hospital for treatment without benefit of any other assistance
  • Failure to provide 24-hour nursing services
  • Failure to change bed linens between emergency room patients
  • Failure to dispose of expired medications

These deficiencies were not incidental mistakes that can not be explained away as regrettable, but understandable oversights at a major safety net hospital which is understaffed, underfunded, and stressed to carry out its mission.

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2 comments on "Parkland Hospital Audits Raise Troubling Questions"


Spangler (9/7/2011 at 12:16 AM)
Everything listed is preventable. Sure the media juices it up but it's really just the principle of it. There is one thing not listed: the letters sent to recent mothers to urgently get tested for aids if they delivered at parkland in the last few months. Tell me that's not scary?! Wildfires=not controlled clean hospital beds and proper disposal= controlled. Our human population= controlled by Parkland. there really is no excuse and there's a reason its getting blasted!

Kathy Wire (8/30/2011 at 10:15 AM)
I agree with your basic concepts in this article. However, I suspect that many hospitals would face a similar verdict if faced with the intensity and manpower dedicated to the survey of Parkland. I fear that your article will allow many of them to hold up their noses, presuming that they are "better." Instead, we should all look at the survey and the publicity surrounding it and say, "There but for the grace of...."