Sadly, the audits paint a picture of a major health system in complete disarray. After reading these findings, it appears that a significant number of staff at Parkland simply have stopped caring. How else can we explain such fundamental flaws?
These aren't just violations of safety standards. These are violations of common sense and compassion. Nothing says "I don't care" like unwashed hands and soiled bed sheets. If Parkland Hospital had been a fast-food restaurant, inspectors would have closed it down and strapped the doors shut with yellow biohazard tape.
It is encouraging that Parkland's executives have accepted responsibility for the shortcomings, and have vowed to revamp hospital operations. It is also sad that it took allegedly at least one patient death, government audits, volumes of negative publicity, and the threat of the loss of about $417 million in Medicare and Medicaid funding before a correction plan was unveiled last week.
The Parkland audit raises larger questions about the quality of care at our nation's safety net hospitals. If it happened in Dallas, what's to say that it isn't happening elsewhere?
The audit adds weight to uncomfortable assertions about the economic tiers in U.S. healthcare delivery, and the perceived lower standard of healthcare for society's most vulnerable – the poor, the uninsured, the indigent. Those stubborn assertions might not be fair, but they are understandable, and they can't be dismissed.