Transparency is Part of the Solution When it Comes to Healthcare
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is known throughout the United States for delivering the highest quality of care to its patients. But between 2015 and 2017, the mortality rate at All Children’s Hospital nearly tripled accounting for more deaths than any other pediatric heart program in the State of Florida according to reports. During this period, parents continued to deliver their children into the care of All Children’s Hospital despite the high mortality rate. They didn’t know better. Those statistics were never made available to the public.
What was publically available was a Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ survey that listed each program’s mortality rate as a four year average. So as the number of patient injuries and death continued to escalate, parents only had a watered down statistic on which to base their healthcare choices for their children.
All Children’s Mortality Rate Sores
In 2015, the rate of surgical deaths began to climb but it began it reached a climax in 2016. During a six-month period, the hospital recorded its worst six-month success rates than at any time over the past eight years. In 2017, the problems continued to escalate for the program. Nearly one in every ten patients that the hospital operated on died.
Then-CEO Jonathan Ellen refused to release the numbers despite growing concern about the program. Ellen contended that any one-year records would not accurately reflect on the quality of the program. Of course, much more information came to light in the aftermath as All Children’s numbers continued to dwindle as more poor years were factored into the four-year average.
The fact is that Ellen was under no legal obligation to release those numbers. Parents continued to send their children into a program that they would only later find out was mired in serious problems.
Serious Problems Come to Light
Frustration with the refusal to release the records culminated when parents found out exactly what kind of mistakes were being made by the hospital staff. These mistakes included very preventable surgical errors such as leaving a needle inside of a baby’s heart, Concerns about the program were raised as early as 2015, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the program began avoiding complex cases. As the department’s problems became public knowledge, CEO Jonathan Ellen resigned amid the controversy.
Today, the debate about whether or not the state should mandate hospitals disclose fatality rates is ongoing. There are those who oppose forcing hospitals to publish the data on the basis of privacy rights and others who believe that many tragedies could have been avoided had that information been made available to the public.
Indeed, hospitals, which are still private companies are opposed to any initiative that could compromise their business. Nonetheless, hospitals, unlike other businesses, hold the power of life and death in their hands.
Talk to a Tampa and St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney
The legal team at the Tampa office of Masterson, Hoag, & Smith represents injured patients in medical malpractice claims. If you have been injured by medical negligence, give us a call or contact us online to set up an appointment today.