Memo Indicates That Failure in Patient Care Led to Sixth Death at King/Drew
A patient hooked to a cardiac monitor died last month at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, after nurses failed to notice the patient's deteriorating vital signs, according to a confidential memo from Los Angeles County health officials released on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The patient's monitor alerted nurses to a decrease in blood pressure, but "nursing [staff] took no action," health officials wrote in the memo.
Including the latest incident, there have been six deaths in 21 months in which critical patients died at King/Drew because monitors used to alert nurses to trouble "went unheeded," according to the Times.
Monday's memo was the second in two weeks in which the county's Department of Health Services reported a fatal failure in care at the hospital. The continued problems at the county-owned hospital are expected to be the primary topic of a Tuesday meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
The board on Tuesday also is expected to discuss a proposal by Supervisor Mike Antonovich to reconsider the county's tie with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, which oversees the training of specialists at King/Drew. A "lax" supervision of medical residents was cited in nearly all of the recent cases of errors in patient care at the hospital, the Times reports.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the most recent problems likely will force him and his colleagues to reopen the discussion of closing the hospital. He said he did not know all the details of the latest case, but he found the fact that another patient's failing condition went unnoticed was "mind-boggling" (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 4/12).
"Fixing the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center is turning out to be more difficult and costly that Los Angeles County political leaders anticipated," according to a Times editorial. The editorial states that the county supervisors' best option would be to "sever" the hospital's ties to the medical school, "whose teaching doctors have failed over and over to supervise trainees," and instead create a smaller community hospital that "could actually save patients, not just political face" (Los Angeles Times, 4/11).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.