You can turn on any television drama that revolves around emergency medicine and see the same scene every time: doctors and nurses scrambling in the emergency room to tend to each patient who comes through the door on a stretcher. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it has become very clear that our hospitals are under stress as portrayed on TV.
The unfortunate misconception about many emergency departments being stressed or unable to properly care for patients is that hospital emergency rooms across the nation are dangerously short-staffed, and a pattern of unnecessary, wrongful deaths is the end result. Rather than acknowledging their shortcomings and taking steps to correct them for both patient and staff safety, some hospitals are choosing to take an unconscionable path. Some employees who raise safety issues are simply labeled as troublemakers and are fired.
Tenet’s Sinai-Grace hospital behaved recklessly
Four registered nurses were relieved of their positions at Tenet’s Sinai-Grace hospital after the media received information from those nurses and other unknown sources about hazardous working conditions and the effects on patient care. The now-former employees attempted to address their concerns with hospital management, but when that did not work, they took to the media and informing government officials.
These nurses filed a lawsuit in early June against the hospital and Tenet for retaliation over their terminations for coming forward about the ongoing risks.
The safety issues at hand include:
- Patient safety due to insufficient staffing and equipment, and nursing errors from working extended hours, all resulting in needless patient deaths.
- Staff safety due to a lack of personal protective equipment availability and making protocol errors while working extended hours.
- Noncompliance with dead body storage, stacking body bags on the floor, on beds, in chairs, and on shelves in a refrigerated holding unit.
- Lack of hospital leadership presence that otherwise could have taken control of the situation and implemented emergency corrective measures.
Is the risk at Sinai-Grace a result of the location?
The hospital is situated in Detroit ,where coronavirus cases skyrocketed. A nurse who filed suit claims that other area emergency rooms did not exhibit the same level of negligence. One potential reason for that, which has not escaped notice, is that Sinai-Grace serves a low income community. Often times, a lower income will lead to minimal access to healthcare – an injustice to be discussed on another day.
Example after example was given to MedPage Today of how the hospital fell short in caring for area patients, such as:
- Sinai-Grace being routinely understaffed even prior to coronavirus causing overcrowded emergency rooms.
- Seven nurses being expected to do the impossible and provide care for 130 patients, many on ventilators and drips.
- Forcing daytime nurses to work a grueling 24-hour shift after forcing a different group of protesting nurses to leave.
- Altering COVID-19 safety protocols for double bagging deceased patients to save supplies.
- Losing locations of deceased patients because of an inability to properly store bodies.
Tenet has denied all wrongdoing
When Tenet was asked about the safety complaints, the company outright denied there was ever any problem, even despite photos and evidence to the contrary. Tenet claims to have cited and fired the nurses for violating patient privacy rights, but it seems that their real concern is keeping private their actions beyond the emergency room doors.
Have you experienced an injury or the loss of a family member during COVID-19 due to insufficient medical staffing or other hospital negligence? The South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC will fight for you. To schedule your free consultation with a member of our legal team, call 803-327-7800, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood