Review of Trauma Center at King/Drew Medical Center Identifies Deficiencies in Care
Patients receive "poor to marginal" care at the Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center trauma unit, according to a one-page executive summary by two trauma experts who analyzed the hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports. Robert Coscia, past chair of an American College of Surgeons' panel that reviews quality at trauma centers nationwide, and Gill Cryer, head of trauma at the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center, visited King/Drew last week to speak with staff and review about 20 records from patients treated in the trauma unit in 2004.
Cryer and Coscia wrote in a letter on Monday that the trauma unit at King/Drew has similar problems to the hospital as a whole, including a shortage of nurses, inadequate patient documentation, flawed methods of correcting medical problems and an inadequate number of intensive care beds. The full report is due in about two weeks. The summary was given to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday (Ornstein/Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
Regulators repeatedly have cited King/Drew for patient care problems, and in September, the board proposed closing the trauma center and hiring outside managers to operate the hospital. The King/Drew trauma center, which provides care for patients with life-threatening injuries, treats about 2,150 patients annually, and the hospital emergency department treats 45,000 patients annually (California Healthline, 11/16).
Some trauma center supporters questioned why the summary was released the day after a rally and public hearing on whether to keep the trauma center open. Adrian Dove, chair of the California Congress of Racial Equality, said, "It wasn't disclosed yesterday when we were there all day. It's troubling timing."
Los Angeles City Council member Janice Hahn, who supports the trauma center, said, "Everything keeps coming back to the one issue of a nursing shortage. Everyone who's looked at it has found that to be true."
Thomas Garthwaite -- director for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, who commissioned the review last month -- said the health department is trying to recruit nurses. "We're hiring every nurse that's capable that applies," he said.
In related news, on Tuesday the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-0, with Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke abstaining, to approve a contract with California Hospital Medical Center to open the first new trauma unit in Los Angeles County in about 10 years. The supervisors will pay California Hospital $3.98 million through June and will ask it to absorb some of the patients from King/Drew if its trauma center closes (Ornstein/Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday examined how Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has "emerged as the undisputed leader of what has become a highly coordinated campaign" to keep the King/Drew trauma center open (Chong et al., Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
Los Angeles County "could use some help from real community leaders -- not those trying to win points by stroking fears -- to help bridge the political divide" that was apparent at the public hearing for King/Drew's trauma center Monday, according to a Times editorial. According to the Times, the county Board of Supervisors handled the public hearing "clumsily," and "it was as if the two sides spoke different languages and described opposing realities," the editorial continues. The editorial adds that the issues at King/Drew are both medical and political. According to the editorial, closing the trauma unit at King/Drew "may be the only way to save the rest of the hospital" (Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
Several broadcast programs reported on King/Drew:
- KPCC's "Air Talk": Los Angeles Times staff writer Charles Ornstein reports on the hearing (Mantle, "Air Talk," KPCC, 11/16). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "KPCC News": KPCC's John Rabe reports on the hearing (Rabe, "KPCC News, KPCC, 11/16). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "Talk of the City": Rabe reports on the hearing (Rabe, "Talk of the City," KPCC, 11/16). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.