‘Systemic’ Problems Contributed to Two Patient Deaths at Riverside Hospital, State Investigation Finds
The deaths of two patients over a one-month period at Riverside Community Hospital resulted from "serious deficiencies" in emergency services, staff and management, according to a Department of Health Services report, the Los Angeles Times reports. DHS investigated the cases of a 52-year-old car accident victim who died from internal bleeding in December 2003 after waiting nine hours for surgery while the hospital tried to locate a surgeon or angiography specialist. Officials also looked into the death of a 36-year-old woman who was prepared for surgery but died on the operating table after her surgeon was "called to an emergency in San Bernardino," the Times reports. Steven Chickering, a San Francisco-based manager for CMS, said, "They failed to ensure that the systems in place were adequate to meet the needs of the patients," adding, "We would expect that ... the physicians responsible for providing care will do so competently and [in a timely matter]." The hospital has submitted a correction plan to HHS that includes implementing outside review; new scheduling policies; monitoring of cardiovascular cases; education efforts; and other components, according to the DHS report (Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 4/8).
The hospital "owes the community some answers" as to why it could not find doctors in a timely fashion in these cases, an editorial in the Riverside Press-Enterprise states. Although hospital officials said the deaths were isolated incidents, the nature of the DHS report suggests "high-level concerns" that the problems are "systemic." According to the editorial, the federal government should not stop Medicare and Medi-Cal payments to the hospital, noting that such a decision for Riverside's Parkview Community Hospital in 2002 "severely strained the area's trauma network." If medical resources at the hospital were so sparse, "the greater community ought to know why," the editorial concludes (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/7).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.