Parkland Hospital Audits Raise Troubling Questions

John Commins, 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.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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