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Parkland Hospital Audits Raise Troubling Questions

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 29, 2011

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.

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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...."