Hospital officials say they have declined a prestigious national quality award because of a lawsuit alleging that a neurosurgeon they employed was incompetent and caused patient injuries and at least one death.
There may be no greater prestige for a hospital than winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award. And there may be no greater shame than to be compelled to give it up.
So it goes for Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, a 112-bed facility 20 miles northeast of Dallas.
When the Baldrige committee announced in November that Baylor Plano would be the 102nd company—and the 18th healthcare system—to garner the top honor in the program's 26-year history, proud staff wasted no time in getting the word out.
They hoisted bright blue banners outside the hospital and surely made a place for the gleaming trophy they'd bring back from ceremonies in April. A marketing campaign to publicize the prize would recognize the accomplishments of a relatively small community hospital.
In Washington, U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, (R-TX), touted Baylor Plano's "innovative practices and visionary leadership," before Congress and said the organization's "dedication to training the best and brightest goes unmatched." The Baldrige program is administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department.
But all that pomp and pride evaporated a week ago. Now, on the federal website where Baylor Plano's quality achievements were once extolled, there is only this.
'An Imminent Peril to the Public Health'
Hospital officials said they were declining the award because of a lawsuit and media coverage over allegations surrounding their hiring and promotion of Christopher Duntsch, a neurosurgeon and spine specialist whose license is now revoked.