Feds say Parkland patients at risk; hospital vows improvements




Posted on August 19, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 19 at 7:02 PM

DALLAS -- Parkland Memorial Hospital has been criticized in a federal report saying Dallas County’s public hospital has put patients at risk of injury or even death.

Friday, Parkland released its plan of action in response to that report and is under big pressure to make rapid improvements. Parkland's problems stem back to the emergency room death of former Dallas restaurateur Mike Herrera in 2008.

This February, a patient in Parkland's psychiatric department died after being mishandled by two staff members.

In May, Parkland was put under State Health Department supervision. A follow-up investigation by the Centers for Medicare Services found continued serious violations putting Parkland on "immediate jeopardy" status.

According to CMS, Parkland "has caused or is likely to cause serious injury, harm, impairment or death to a patient." Specifically Parkland was cited for "failure to ensure infection control" and sanitary conditions and for what's referred to as the "patient dumping law".

"As soon as the results of the survey came, we broke into a number of teams,” said Parkland C.E.O. Ron Anderson. “Each deficiency was immediately assigned a team to study the issues, identify the problems and make them right."

Parkland's chief medical officer says he has told his staff the deficiencies must be quickly corrected.

"They must document better," said Dr. John Jay Shannon, Parkland’s chief medical officer. "They must talk to their patients better; they have to make sure the transfers of care are happening better." 

The plan of action submitted by hospital officials Friday includes improving Parkland's triage procedures, a more efficient alignment of policies and stressing accountability and education. Failure to do this quickly could mean loss of federal funding, which in turn could mean closure of the county's lifeline for the poor.