Under the Radar
Those of you who’ve had long careers in acute care were probably the only members of the reading public who weren’t surprised by the Chicago Tribune’s report that 85 percent of hospital complaints were ignored by the state of Illinois last year.
Grievances ranged from dirty needles, medication errors, sexual assault, and patient neglect. One unidentified nurse said she submitted a complaint—when her hospital was under different ownership—that nursing levels in her newborn unit were below state requirements. When regulators didn’t investigate and instead passed her comments along to a regulatory body, she felt ignored. Fearing discipline from her employer, the nurse dropped the matter.
In other states, hospitals are charged fees to fund investigations. In Illinois, nursing homes are held accountable for inquiry costs. The Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission is proposing to charge hospitals $50/bed but Illinois Hospital Association strongly opposes, on the grounds that Medicare and Medicaid cuts are squeezing the hospitals dry in the current environment. Also, IHA said hospitals’ internal controls assure a quality of care for patients, negating the need for a public reporting requirement, regardless of cost.
Few know better than front line providers if more investigation might be warranted. What do you think?