Doctors Instructed to Go Light on Sedatives and Pain Meds to Move Patients Along?
Are you kidding me? A hospital taking short cuts to discharge patients too early in order to increase revenue?
Erik Franck, MD, an anesthesiologist practicing at the Kaiser Permanente hospitals in the Portland, Oregon has filed a lawsuit against Northwest Permanente (a division of Kaiser Permanente) making these very allegations. Dr. Franck believes Kaiser was more interested in cutting costs and profitability than good patient care. In his whistleblower lawsuit, Dr. Franck identified the hospitals objectionable policies and procedures as follows:
- Ordering “the minimal use of surgical and pre and post-surgery pain and anxiety medications” in order to speed patient emergence and discharge.
- Decreased staffing levels which required anesthesiologists to simultaneously supervise 4 CRNAs, up from a 1:2 ratio, even during pediatric procedures.
- Prioritizing 7:30 a.m. start times, regardless of pre-op patients’ preparations, medical needs or requests for information. This once led to administering a patient’s spinal anesthesia in pre-op and transporting them to the OR unmonitored, says the lawsuit.
- Discouraging anesthesiologists from entering the OR during cesarean sections “unless absolutely necessary.”
My Take: I hope Dr. Franck prevails. He courageously raised concerns over the negative impact his hospital’s policies and procedures had on patient health – and was fired as a result.