Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Military Hospital Questioned ... Then Reprisals

Beyond conducting their periodic evaluation of Womack Army Medical Center, one of the military’s busiest hospitals, the inspectors who came here to Fort Bragg last March had a special task. A medical technologist had complained of dangerous lapses in the prevention of infections. The inspectors planned to follow up.
But Teresa Gilbert, the technologist, said supervisors excluded her from meetings with the inspectors from the Joint Commission, an independent agency that accredits hospitals. “I was told my opinions were not necessary, nor were they warranted,” said Mrs. Gilbert, an infection-control specialist.
“I was told my opinions were not necessary, nor were 
they warranted,” said Teresa Gilbert, an infection-
control specialist who complained of major lapses at 
Womack Army Medical Center. 
Credit Travis Dove for The NYT
The review ended disastrously for Womack, one of 54 domestic and overseas military hospitals that serve more than three million active-duty service members, retirees and family members. The inspectors faulted infection prevention and many other aspects of care, putting the hospital’s accreditation under a cloud for months.
It was disastrous for Mrs. Gilbert, too. She said she was reprimanded for being an obstructionist, reduced to part-time hours, investigated for what she called trumped-up charges and transferred to a clerk’s job.
“We want people to come forward. We are 
committed to patient safety, we are committed 
to transparency, and there will be NO 
COMPROMISE,” Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the 
Army surgeon general, wrote in a statement. 
Credit Cliff Owen/AP
The message to Womack workers, she said, was clear: “You don’t go against us. If you do, we will get you.”
At any hospital, patient safety and quality of care depend on the willingness of medical workers to identify problems. The goal is for medical workers to be free to speak bluntly to — and about — higher-ups without being ignored or, worse, punished.
In interviews and email exchanges, many doctors, nurses and other medical workers said military hospitals fall short of that objective.
In interviews and email exchanges, many doctors, nurses and other medical workers said military hospitals fall short of that objective.
“Simply put, I was targeted because I wasn’t a ‘yes man’ 
and stood in the way,” said Dr. Italo Bastianelli, a 
colonel, shown in Afghanistan, who was transferred 
after expressing concern about patient safety at Keller 
Army Community Hospital.
During an examination of military hospitals this year, The New York Times asked readers to recount their experiences via a private electronic portal. Among more than 1,200 comments were dozens from medical workers about how the system thwarted efforts to deliver superior care.
Physicians and nurses described in follow-up interviews how they were brushed off, transferred, investigated, passed over for promotion or fired after they pointed out problems with care.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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1 comment:

Bryan White said...

I was an employee at WOMACK during the time Teresa Gilbert was not present and the oversight for the infectious disease protocols were not being followed.

I worked daily in the basement of the medical center near the cafeteria and bathrooms where all the doctors and nurses visit several times a day.

I have never worked in a medical facility before and was not made aware of any such dangers, I was in the IT department.

In less than 4 weeks of working there I was admitted to the ER with clinical MRSA of which only one antibiotic is available.

I was on 2 bags of IV in the hospital for 30 days after surgery for a softball size abscess in my lower abdomen.

After being admitted into the hospital for heart issues, I no longer felt safe working there.