Nah. Today, I’m going to discuss hospital safety. And just when you think you’ve heard it all.
NYU Langone Medical Center is one of New York City’s safer hospitals, although that might not be sayin' a whole lot. In July, we told you about the latest hospital rankings from Consumer Reports, specifically that "of the 50 lowest-scoring hospitals nationwide in terms of quality of care, 30 were in the New York City area [and ] the five lowest-rated hospitals nationally were all in New York City.” NYU Langone Medical Center is actually one of the higher ranked NYC hospitals, with a patient safety score of 56 (out of 100, but the top rated US hospital only scored a 72. In other words, they’ve all got problems.)
I think the entire nation was horrified upon learning that this hospital’s back up generator failed when power went out in Lower Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy. This was after assurances to city officials that everything would be fine. And then seeing 200 patients, including about 45 critical care patients and newborns unable to breathe on their own, being slid down dark stairwells and taken to other hospitals (most with lower safety ratings than NYU, by the way) in the middle of a hurricane.
First of all, talk about a Katrina lesson not learned. As Bloomberg (the news service, not Mayor) reports,
Electricity failures at hospitals in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina led to lawsuits. Tenet Healthcare Corp. (THC), the third-largest publicly traded hospital chain in the nation, agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over patient deaths brought by families who blamed the actions of officials at the company’s Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. At least 34 patients died at the hospital after the hurricane knocked out power.
Thanks to the almost super-human heroic efforts of doctors and nurses, no NYU-Langone patient died during this experience, but the doctors and nurses were no less heroic during Katrina. It was just sheer luck that the ambulances could make their way down city streets.
But now, questions about how and why this happened need to be asked, and not just by our little blog, but by the hospital trustees, and the city. Continued Bloomberg,
Blame is being placed on the building’s outdated backup power system, which has raised concern that aging infrastructure at U.S. hospitals has created a risk for similar outages that jeopardize patient care.
“Hospitals are careful to get the latest and greatest medical equipment, but then they don’t spend on the infrastructure,” Michael Orlowicz, a principal at consulting company Lawrence Associates LLC, said in an interview. “It surprises me what happened in New York.”
One in 20 hospitals are unprepared for power disruptions, and an incident may result in more than $1 million in lost revenue and other costs, according to Bridgewater, New Jersey- based Lawrence Associates, which focuses on economic justification for technology spending. Coney Island Hospital and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York also were forced to evacuate some patients because of power failures.…
The board knew the facilities’ generators were outdated and at risk, Gary Cohn, a trustee who is also president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
I’m assuming by “board,” he was including the hospital's billionaire chairman Kenneth Langone (Home Depot founder), who happened to be in the hospital with pneumonia and had to be evacuated from his 11th floor room. “So last night God decides to give us a test and our machines failed,” was one of his explanations.
“Machines fail, airplanes take off in great shape and they have malfunctions,” Langone said. “Why do we always need to blame somebody for something that could just have happened? Why not write a story about what people did because things happened? Let’s be a little positive once in a while.”
Yeah, that was our first thought too.