Patient Care Ward Reopened at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services officials have reopened a 22-bed unit at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center after it was closed last year following three patient deaths "under questionable circumstances," the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials said that as of Friday, 10 beds in the unit, which houses patients who require cardiac monitoring but do not need to be placed in intensive care units, were in operation (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 4/17). The three patients allegedly died because of improper care, including two women who died in July after a new bedside system that monitors patient vital signs failed to alert technicians that the patients required urgent medical care. Another patient who died Dec. 14, 2003, when staff members did not intervene when vital signs declined. A state investigation report released by the Department of Health Services in November 2003 found nurses at King/Drew also did not adequately examine the patients and in one case lied about tests that were never performed (California Healthline, 1/5). County DHS spokesperson John Wallace said that since the unit was closed, the hospital has "carefully screened nurses to ensure that they have the proper qualifications" to work in the unit, and hospital administrators have hired nurses from outside agencies, the Times reports. Wallace also said that all of the nurses working in the unit were given supplementary training and that the screening equipment was tested and found to be working properly (Los Angeles Times, 4/17).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.