hospitals

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.
John Ryan / KUOW

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.

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.

Go into almost any hospital these days and you'll hear a constant stream of beeps and boops. To most people it sounds like medical Muzak.

But to doctors and nurses, it's not just sonic wallpaper. Those incessant beeps contain important coded messages.

uwmedicine.org

“Abruptly and brutally.”

That’s how Dr. Abe Bergman described the announcement by administrators to close some of the clinics at Harborview Medical Center. He said staff members were told that some of the primary care clinics housed at the hospital would close in July.

B. Braun training video on YouTube.com

Editor’s note 2/7/2014: This story has been edited to remove references to VA officials’ incorrect claim that a Seattle VA nurse saw the Infusomat recall at the FDA website in March 2012. While manufacturer B. Braun sent the VA and other customers its recall notice in March, FDA did not post information about the manufacturer’s March 23, 2012, recall letter until August 1. The story has also been edited to attribute to medical records the statement that, the night Eddie Creed died, a doctor asked his sister if she wanted an autopsy to be done. Creed's sister claims the VA never asked her about an autopsy. The content in the edited story differs from the audio in the original broadcast.

When Eddie Creed, a Seattle jazz musician, died at the Veterans Affairs hospital on Beacon Hill last year, his death certificate said throat cancer had killed him.

But a KUOW investigation reveals what his doctors knew: A medical device called an Infusomat, which had been recalled the month before, ended his life. Still, nobody knows why.

Marcie Sillman talks with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's executive director Rachel Berkson about the group's reaction to new proposed rules for hospital mergers in Washington, including increased public transparency and recommending hospitals post their end-of-life and reproductive health policies online.

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