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hospitals

Efforts to turnaround Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital are taking longer than expected. The federal government this week granted yet another extension to give the state’s largest mental hospital more time to fix systemic problems.

Two small-town hospitals in the Palouse have announced they plan to offer gender confirmation surgeries. The same surgeon would offer the procedure at Pullman Regional Hospital and Gritman Medical Center in nearby Moscow, Idaho.

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, the flagship hospital of CHI Franciscan Health, is coming under fire for allegedly shirking its legal duty to provide charity care to the uninsured poor. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday.

Hospice care is for the dying. It helps patients manage pain so they can focus on spending their remaining time with loved ones. But in recent years, nearly 1 in 5 patients has been discharged from hospice before he or she dies, according to government reports.

A bill requiring hospitals to inform patients they may be eligible for charity care has passed the Washington State House Thursday.

By law, Washington hospitals can’t turn away people seeking emergency care because they’re not able to pay. The law also requires hospitals to screen low income patients to see if they’re eligible for charity care. 


Eileen Donoher lives in Snohomish and commutes to the UW Medical Center. She has three small children. 'We can make it work,' she says.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

The Seattle area is getting more expensive. People are finding new ways to adapt, like moving farther away for affordable housing.

But what happens when you still need to work in the city — say, at a hospital in Seattle’s core?

Nearly 1 in 5 children each year suffers a psychiatric illness, according to research estimates. But a national shortage of medical specialists and inpatient facilities means that many still go untreated — despite national efforts to improve mental health care.

Virginia Mason Medical Center is warning hundreds of patients to get tested for hepatitis-B, after a lapse in screening practices. Friday, the hospital announced it has notified 650 patients that they could have been exposed.

Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.

But a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren't always keeping their hands so clean and probably should: patients.

newborn baby
Flickr Photo/Bridget Coila (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ahjewq

Bill Radke speaks with retired doula Penny Simkin about how Swedish Medical Center hopes to lower the rate of cesarean sections by hiring 27 doulas as staff members. Research has shown that doulas can reduce the number of c-sections by 50 percent. Swedish is the first hospital in Washington to try this approach.  

When it's time for medical care, where do you go? The doctor's office? An urgent care clinic? Or the nearest hospital?

As many as 1 in 3 Americans sought care in an ER in the past two years, according to a recent poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. That relatively high frequency may be a matter of convenience, even though many in the poll also report frustration with the cost and quality of care they received in an ER.

Every year some 2 million Americans get infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 of them die from these superbugs.

Superbugs are mostly a hospital problem: They're where these pathogens are often born and spread, and where the infected come for help. But hospitals are not where the majority of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used.

Washington state law requires hospitals to screen patients for financial need before demanding payment. But that doesn’t always happen. Now courts are paying attention.

A ruling against Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center highlights the problem.

Thursday's announcement by Kaiser Permanente that it plans to open its own medical school in Southern California in 2019 has attracted a lot of attention in the health care community.

The nonprofit, national provider of managed health care says it plans to train students in its own style of integrated diagnosis and treatment — focusing on research, the use of new technologies, and teaching doctors to work as part of a collaborative caregiving team.

The federal government is penalizing 758 hospitals with higher rates of patient safety incidents, and more than half of those places had also been fined last year, Medicare records released late Wednesday show.

Harborview Hospital, Seattle, 2002
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1Ky8e6j

A new federal grant gives Harborview Medical Center a boost in combating gun violence. The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday awarded about $500,000 to organizations in Seattle, including Harborview.

The hospital wants to talk with gunshot victims about the reasons they ended up in the hospital -- sometimes due to gang activity or crime. 

Until recently, nurses at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Hospital had to maneuver through a maze of wheelchairs, beds, boxes and lights to find surgical supplies in the equipment closet for the operating rooms.

But as public hospitals like Harbor-UCLA try to cut costs and make patients happier, administrators have turned to an unlikely ally: Toyota.

Ross Reynolds talks with Carol Wagner, senior vice president for patient safety at the Washington State Hospital Association, about some of the infections patients contract at hospitals. 

The ACLU of Washington has filed a lawsuit against Skagit Regional Health. It claims the public hospital’s policies create illegal barriers to abortion. Hospitals say they are required to offer abortions, but can’t make employees perform them.    

Checking into a hospital can boost your chances of infection. That's a disturbing paradox of modern medical care.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

If today is a typical day in the United States, about 200 hospital patients will die with an infection they picked up while they were in the hospital.

Only one patient in the United States has ever died of Ebola, and many deadly diseases spread much more easily than Ebola.

Three times in one week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo returned to the emergency room of the Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Southern California, seeking relief from intense back pain. Each time, Granillo waited a little while and then left the ER without ever being seen by a doctor.

"I was in so much pain, I wanted to be taken care of 'now,' " says Granillo. "I didn't want to sit and wait."

The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled it’s illegal for the state to “board” mental health patients in emergency rooms and regular hospital beds.

A national hospital chain says it suspects Chinese hackers breached its computer system earlier this year. Patients whose doctors work with any of five hospitals in the Northwest might have had financial data stolen.

The state of Washington is scrambling to find beds for an estimated 200 mental health patients by August 27. That's when the state must comply with a Washington Supreme Court ruling that said detaining psychiatric patients in emergency room beds is unlawful.

Marcie Sillman talks with freelance journalist Lisa Stiffler about infection rates and patient safety in Washington hospitals.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

State auditors say Western State Hospital has been losing about $800,000 a year paying for work that's not being done. For decades, the hospital has been letting hundreds of employees start late and leave early -- and still paying for their time.

Flickr Photo/Micheal J (CC BY-NC-ND)

A year after hospitals began discouraging Medicaid patients from making unnecessary emergency room visits, the results are promising. A new state report shows the number of unnecessary visits to ERs in Washington fell by 10 percent last year.  

“A 10 percent reduction is almost unprecedented,” said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, an ER physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma.

Harborview Clinics To Stay Open

Feb 27, 2014
Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Harborview Medical Center said Wednesday it will not be closing its primary care clinics after all.

Last December, the hospital had announced its intent to relocate those services into the community. But the prospect of shutting down the clinics located at Harborview's main hospital disturbed many staff and patients.

Flickr Photo/Ralf (CC BY-NC-SA)

The Washington State Hospital Association has filed suit in Thurston County Superior Court over the state's new permitting process for hospitals.

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