Last week, I shared information on a new Charter on Professionalism for Healthcare Organizations. The group that developed the Charter found that several leading journals were not interested in the topic. It didn’t seem to be a compelling topic. Evidence of hospital wrong-doing seemed to be off their radar screens, even thought the impetus for the Charter was physicians saying that they couldn’t live up to their own standards of professionalism because of pressures from their own healthcare organizations.
Today, Modern Healthcare has reported that Anthony Armada has resigned as the CEO of Swedish Health Services in Seattle after the Seattle Times reported that Swedish had pushed neurosurgeons there to increase the volume of surgeries, resulting in a 39% increase in net operating revenues in 2015. At the same time, there was an increase in invasive surgeries, when a less invasive alternative was available, and an increase in serious complications. The Times article notes,”Hospital leaders recruited one doctor from another institution as he dealt with an internal investigation and allegations that he had high rates of complications and may have performed unnecessary surgeries. At Cherry Hill, more allegations of patient care problems emerged about the doctor, but administrators promoted him to a top leadership position.”
Safety was also compromised by inadequate staffing. Nurses were forced to sometimes work 20 hours or more and to care for more than one patient in intensive care–both developments known to be associated with higher rates of complications and death.
It’s a compelling reason for widespread circulation and discussion of the new Charter. I hope readers of this blog will circulate the Charter to friends and colleagues, as well as urge health care organizations (and their boards of trustees) to use the Charter to evaluate their level of professionalism, including whether they are sacrificing their missions of service for profits.