Now that the Seattle Times has brought out a truly shocking series of articles (see other posts on this site) on the neurosurgery unit of Providence/Swedish, the question is “What should Jefferson County’s hospital do about this?” We have a working relationship with these hospitals. From what I understand they send us doctors for certain shortages we face from time to time and we also are tied to their electronic records systems, called EPIC.
I have discussed with a number of medical professionals who have read the articles and they were in agreement that this is more than a simple story that can be easily brushed over. To them it’s a deeply concerning one. Some of them said, “Yes, it’s been understood for years that the implementation of a numbers based goal for surgical units is going to drive more surgeries.” Jefferson Healthcare themselves uses the system, and evaluates their doctors on these units.
That the neurosurgery unit of Swedish Cherry Hill has been run like a machine on overdrive, churning through questionable surgeries for the sake of racking up maximum reimbursable value for the hospital and doctors themselves, should force us to discuss the future of the relationship with the Seattle hospital system with which we have allied ourselves. Would you want to see yourself or any loved one of yours sent there after reading this damning expose that took over a year to uncover?
I have a personal dog in this hunt. My best friend was in the neurosurgical unit at Cherry Hill during the last half of 2016, fighting multiple brain cancer sites and a chest tumor. He and his partner went through a great deal of stress over the pressures that the staff were putting on him to undergo more brain surgeries after he was deemed terminal. I told them to push back and discuss with the staff the quality of life issues that he would face one way or the other.They finally found a doctor at the hospital who sided with them against the surgical teams. Apparently there were heated words in meetings with the patient present about the choices being made. My friend died at home in January without undergoing further surgeries.
The Jefferson County Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn and the Hospital Board of Commissioners needs to take some time, but come forward and help us understand that they are concerned about this state of affairs and questions need to be asked as to whether our hospital should continue sending patients to Providence and Swedish Cherry Hill.
More thoughts on this issue will be forthcoming.