Via The New York Times, a disturbing report: Military Hospital Care Is Questioned; Next, Reprisals. Excerpt:
Beyond conducting their periodic evaluation of Womack Army Medical Center, one of the military’s busiest hospitals, the inspectors who came here to Fort Bragg last March had a special task. A medical technologist had complained of dangerous lapses in the prevention of infections. The inspectors planned to follow up.
But Teresa Gilbert, the technologist, said supervisors excluded her from meetings with the inspectors from the Joint Commission, an independent agency that accredits hospitals.
“I was told my opinions were not necessary, nor were they warranted,” said Mrs. Gilbert, an infection-control specialist.
The review ended disastrously for Womack, one of 54 domestic and overseas military hospitals that serve more than three million active-duty service members, retirees and family members. The inspectors faulted infection prevention and many other aspects of care, putting the hospital’s accreditation under a cloud for months.
It was disastrous for Mrs. Gilbert, too. She said she was reprimanded for being an obstructionist, reduced to part-time hours, investigated for what she called trumped-up charges and transferred to a clerk’s job.
The message to Womack workers, she said, was clear: “You don’t go against us. If you do, we will get you.” At any hospital, patient safety and quality of care depend on the willingness of medical workers to identify problems. The goal is for medical workers to be free to speak bluntly to — and about — higher-ups without being ignored or, worse, punished.
In interviews and email exchanges, many doctors, nurses and other medical workers said military hospitals fall short of that objective.
I would like to know why the Joint Commission didn't demand Teresa Gilbert's presence at its meetings.