‘Aggressive’ Cost-Cutting at Tenet Puts Patients ‘At Risk,’ SEIU Study Says
Tenet Healthcare's "aggressive" cost-cutting practices and inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios put patients at risk, according to a new report released by the Service Employees International Union, Dow Jones Business News reports. The 27-page study, based on investigations conducted by the Department of Health Services in June and July, reports that Tenet's Queen of Angels Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles had a nurse-to-patient ratio of one-to-seven, compared to the California average ratio of one-to-five and a "preferred" ratio of one-to-four, Dow Jones reports. In addition, an increase in temporary nurses who are "unfamiliar with a hospital's culture" may contribute to "additional risk." The SEIU contends that the low staffing ratios are responsible for an additional two patient deaths per 1,000 admissions (Maio, Dow Jones Business News, 12/12). The study's release comes as Tenet is trying to "restore its reputation" after the announcement of investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, HHS and the Federal Trade Commission, Reuters reports.
Tenet spokesperson Harry Anderson disputed the SEIU's findings, stating, "The fact is that Tenet hospitals in California are meeting and exceeding all the relevant standards for safety and nurse staffing and we fully expect to meet the new staff ratios that Gov. (Gray) Davis (D) has set for the hospital industry in 2004." Anderson also noted that the study "failed to account" for a statewide nursing shortage (Border/Keating, Reuters, 12/12). However, Howard Berliner, a professor of health care management and policy at the New York-based New School University and consultant for the study, said, "This is an organization that is apparently robbing the public purse on the public side and at the same time is providing very poor patient care." Berliner added that California's self-regulatory system for hospitals "isn't doing its job." The SEIU study calls for "rigorous audits" at Tenet to monitor patient care (Dow Jones Business News, 12/12). The study is available online. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.