Physicians, Patients File Suit Against San Francisco Health Department Over Access to Care
A group of physicians and patients is suing San Francisco city officials over allegations that they "have illegally reduced county health services" and have "left hundreds of medical jobs vacant without giving required public notice," the San Jose Mercury News reports. The complaint was filed on July 11 in San Francisco Superior Court by the Emergency Coalition to Save Public Health. The suit claims that the San Francisco health department began a "hiring freeze" last July and deliberately kept open 250 positions at San Francisco General hospital, 35 positions in primary care services and 87 positions at Laguna Honda Hospital, a long term care facility for elderly and disabled individuals. The group also alleges that in 1999, "a number of beds" in San Francisco General's emergency room were "removed" to "cap the number of patients seen in the trauma center." The group also contends that staffing for 20 surgical beds at the hospital was eliminated last summer, and that the loss of these beds has put a larger "burden" on the emergency department. In addition, the cuts in surgical and emergency beds have resulted in longer waits for patients and in more patients being "bumped" to other hospitals "about half the time," the suit states. But a spokesperson for San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) said that the suit "appear[s] politically motivated and timed to coincide with the board of supervisors' current budget deliberations" (Koury, San Jose Mercury News, 7/12).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.