Regulatory Bodies Failed to Catch and Punish Problems at All Children’s Hospital
Based on reputation alone, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is among the most esteemed medical centers in the country. But for one brief period between 2015 and 2017, there are reports that the pediatric heart surgery program had major red flags. The mortality rate of children who were provided medical services by the department nearly tripled in that period and, in 2017, nearly one out of every ten patients died as a result of the care they received.
This has prompted renewed debate over whether or not hospitals should be forced to release their records concerning adverse medical events. It has also prompted concern over the state and federal regulatory bodies that failed so many children who were admitted to the program. Now, parents are angry, and the public is concerned. Johns Hopkins’ reputation has taken a hit and the fallout from blame is being pointed in all directions. The question that many have is: How did the state and federal government fail to intervene as the body count continued to add up?
Government Alerted to Problems at All Children’s
On at least four separate occasions, government officials were alerted to serious problems with the program. While state investigators managed to uncover two instances in which serious medical errors went unreported, as of yet, there has been no real government response to the problems that the department. This is despite the fact that at least one doctor with the program indicated, under oath, that the department had reportedly attempted to cover up major mistakes that its staff had made.
While the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration cited All Children’s for failing to report two adverse medical events, they neither fined the hospital nor punished the doctors responsible for the cover-up. This is despite testimony from within the department itself that the cover-up was intentional and efforts were made to hide adverse medical results.
Tampa Bay Congressmen Call the Regulatory Lapses ‘Troubling’
The scope of the failure in the case of All Children’s is immense. Not only did the hospital’s executive staff reportedly fail to respond to problems with the department, they continued to allow them to take complex cases as patient injuries began to rise at an increasing rate. Despite numerous reports to state regulators that there was a serious problem, no one has actually been disciplined for allowing it to fester. Even with evidence that the department attempted to conceal data from reaching regulators, no punishments have been handed down by any regulatory committee.
In addition, because state regulators failed to find any evidence of federal violations, the federal government opted not to conduct an investigation of their own.
Though the CEO of All Children’s, Jonathan Ellen, resigned amid the controversy, the state claims it never fined All Children’s for the failure to report the adverse medical results because they had returned subsequently and found that the problem had been resolved.
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