Letter to the editor: Killings in the Hospital

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

I'm pondering what can be mandated on a much greater level concerning hospital killings? What can be mandated to prevent hospital staff from killing innocent people who come to the hospital for treatment? Even though the killings were in a hospital setting, a killing is a killing whether it was done carelessly or deliberately. Oh yes, it does happen because the necessary precautions, protocol, or standards of care were not adhered to and followed. The CDC reports that statistically, 147,000 people are accidentally killed in the hospitals annually at the hands of doctors, NPs, nurses, and other medical staff in some form. But this would be a total of 403 people dying daily while receiving treatment or lack of treatment in the care of hospital staff.

According to Johns Hopkins patient safety experts, their calculations of 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical errors here in the US. Their figures surpass the CDC figures. They also report that these "medical errors" as they are called are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It is third following cancer! These numbers are staggering and should not be ignored, but given the utmost attention. The Johns Hopkins team said the CDC's way of collecting national health statistics fails to classify medical errors separately on the death certificate. The researchers are advocating for updated criteria for classifying deaths on death certificates. Therefore, these deaths are much higher.

I'm also pondering what can be mandated regarding the causes of the hospital killings: incompetency, insufficient training, lack of empathy, lack of interpersonal skills, racism, discrimination, inadequate staff, and utter carelessness to name a few. Sometimes they just don't care! And there are many other reasons. In the medical profession, there is no room for any of this. There should be an unacceptability and a zero tolerance for this type of behavior.

To elaborate on incompetence, the best book says knowledge is easy for them who understand. Therefore, knowledge is easy to obtain when we comprehend what we are learning. Hospitals must make sure that we all understand what we know (have learned, studied) and what we are doing. That is applying what we have learned. Application of knowledge is the most critical because to learn and not apply what we have learned is deadly to a community. Many hospital staffs lack critical thinking skills. They do not know the critical order of sickness, signs and symptoms, diagnostic testing, appropriate treatment, testing, and so forth. Here again, it is lethal to a community. Incompetence is not to be accepted in the medical field, or we will leave behind a field of dead bodies, grief-struck and possibly poverty-stricken families from killing their moms, dads, family, and friends. We can rest assured that lawsuits after lawsuits will follow. There must be a mandate!

Let's look at the poorly trained staff. This too should not be allowed. Staff is not being adequately trained to work in the various areas of the medical field namely ICU, ER, NICU, PACU, Transplant, Med Surg, Surgery, and other areas. Therefore, many people are recklessly killed daily. There must be a mandate!

Oh! and the attitudes of some staff are outrageous! Some medical staff has the worst bedside manners ever. They lack interpersonal skills. They are rude and obnoxious to patients, family members, and staff. They bring their problems and unhappiness to work and spew it on everyone. "Misery loves company," as the saying goes. Nasty attitudes should not be tolerated or allowed on any level! The best book says to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But it becomes very evident, very fast that some people do not love themselves. So how can they love others? We cannot perform at our best when our life is a mess, for whatever reason. This is precisely why on the Maslow's hierarchy of needs self-actualization, self-esteem, and self-respect are at the top of the pyramid. If the head is sick, the whole body is in trouble, and so are those who encounter the mentally unstable. If the head is off, then our performance will also be off. There must be a mandate!

What about the insufficient staff? It should not be allowed under any circumstances as well. Working understaffed is never safe for the patient nor the staff member. Overwhelming the nurses and doctors with patients to care for is never a good ideal. At this rate, poor care is inevitable that can have catastrophic outcomes. Nurse-patient ratio must be realistic. There must be a mandate!

What about racism and discrimination? It is alive and well! Though no one wants to talk about it, we must have that conversation. No one who is exhibiting this type of behavior should be allowed to work in any aspect of the medical field. Once they have shown evidence of racism or discrimination, they should be dismissed at once. They should not be allowed to work in such a multiracial, multicultural environment. There are those who are bold enough to verbalize their racial slurs and remarks in the presence of others and even on social media.

It was brought to my attention that there was an alleged paramedic who posted on Facebook that he would rather save the life of a dog than a million-black people. There was also another alleged paramedic who posted that he passed by a wreck on the highway. He started to stop, but when he saw it was black people he kept going. He concluded with, “I hope they be alright.” His speech was sheer racism laced with sarcasm, but this is unacceptable conduct. There must be a mandate!

The best book says whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart. Racism and discrimination don't just go away. It is embedded in our heart. It takes Jesus to deal with that kind of heart, but a lot of people don't want Jesus. So, what do we do? We fire them if they are an employee or we don't hire them once noted during an interview. There must be a mandate!

Let's not forget the "I-can-care-less attitude," which also kills. Some staff doesn't care what they do to their patients, what they don't do for their patients, or what happens to their patients. This kind you can't only sue. This kind must lose their livelihood and their freedom so that they can think about what they have done. The best book says to do unto others as you would have them to do unto you. It is better known as "The Golden Rule.” There must be a mandate!

The Johns Hopkins patient safety experts also said, “It was under-recognized that diagnostic errors, medical mistakes, and the absence of safety nets could result in someone's death." It was under-recognized for the most apparent reasons related to the frequency of occurrences and the legal implications. But we are here to shed light on and bring much attention to these problems. There must be a mandate!

Providing substandard care to some members of our society is not acceptable. It is the right of all patients to receive quality health care. We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. It is as simple as that, and if we chose not to love them our best out is to get out of the medical field. It is only a matter of time before we are face-to-face with a lawsuit and possible jail time. There must be a mandate from DHH, JACHO, the state legislature, or any entity that can help.

If this concerns you or is troubling to you in any way, please share. Let's be part of the solution in healthcare reform. The lives of our families and friends depend on it. Share, share, share!!!

Melissa A Williams

P.O. Box 146

Belle Rose, LA 70346