Thursday, November 10, 2005

Reason for Taking Heart

Those who may be discouraged about the prospects for health care reform can take heart from a story that appeared in the November 9, 2005 issue of the Boston Globe.

The story was about a surgical episode that occurred a year ago. A surgeon at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge was suspended after five of his patients developed post-operative staph infections during a ten-week period – infections ultimately traced to the surgeon himself, who was identified as the carrier. Four patients recovered and one died.

According to the story, Mount Auburn was on top of the situation from the beginning. Its “infection control manager” picked up on the first three cases, at which time the surgeon’s operating privileges were temporarily suspended. Tests were inconclusive, however, and his privileges were restored. The other two cases quickly ensued (including the one who died), at which point the suspension was reinstated. The surgeon refused the three rounds of antibiotic treatment insisted upon by the hospital and in January of this year resigned from the Mount Auburn staff.

While under suspension at Mount Auburn, the surgeon began operating on patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, where he also had privileges. However, that hospital soon learned of the situation at Mount Auburn and imposed its own suspension.

At present, the surgeon is not practicing.

The encouraging point here is that while both hospitals properly reported their actions to the appropriate state authority, they accepted their responsibilities and took the initiative without waiting for regulators to make them do it.

It probably wouldn’t have happened that way ten years ago, and for sure not twenty years ago.

So health care reform is under way, sure enough. If only it could move faster!!!!

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