A lawsuit filed by the Michigan Nurses Association and several Huron Valley Sinai Hospital nurses alleges the hospital is in violation of the state’s public health code. Specifically, the suit claims the nurses at the hospital, which is run by Detroit Medical Center (DMC), are unable to provide safe patient care due to chronic understaffing that is the result of cutbacks instituted by DMC.
The law requires hospitals to provide adequate levels of care to their patients, and standards are designed and put in place to hold them accountable. A failure to adhere to established standards can be the basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Report Reveals Widespread Problems Affecting Patient Safety
In conjunction with filing the lawsuit, the nurses’ union produced a report providing detailed evidence of their claims. It shows that, between January 1, 2017, and September 1, 2017, nurses at Huron Valley Sinai Hospital submitted 240 reports of unsafe patient conditions – nearly one every single day – that can be attributed to cutbacks and understaffing.
The reports include instances of:
- Patient falls
- Late medications, including delayed pain medication and IV bags “running dry”
- Patients left unattended during critical situations, including unsafe staffing levels in the intensive care unit (ICU) and patients being abandoned in procedure rooms
- Nurses assigned to tasks or responsibilities without proper training, including being sent to ICU despite not having ICU training
- Patients left sitting in their own urine and feces
- Patients not receiving baths for several days
- Management condoning or ignoring unsafe practices, such as not transferring patients to the ICU because it would require paying overtime to a nurse
- Equipment failures
The lawsuit also claims that hospital management have consistently refused to accept these reports – known as Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) forms – from nurses. As a result, the nurses felt their only course of action was to take the matter to the courts in order to bring these unsafe practices to light.
Unsafe Conditions are the Result of Drastic Hospital Cutbacks and Underfunding
Both the nurses’ lawsuit and the report put blame for the current unsafe situation squarely at the feet of Vanguard Health Systems, Inc., which acquired DMC in 2010. Following the acquisition, Vanguard and DMC implemented a number of cost-cutting measures that the nurses allege have directly threatened patient safety. In particular, the hospital is not maintaining appropriate staffing levels and vacant positions are going unfilled. This has put tremendous pressure on nurses to do more with less, and negatively affects the level of care they are able to provide patients.
Unknown Number of Huron Valley Sinai Hospital Patients Put at Risk
The Michigan Nurses Union and nurses at Huron Valley Sinai Hospital have shed light on a troubling situation. From the lawsuit and report, it appears that patients were put at very significant risk, which perhaps led to preventable complications or even deaths.
The attorneys in the Sommers Schwartz Medical Malpractice Group are currently interviewing patients and families of patients who may have received substandard care at Huron Valley Sinai Hospital and who have suffered long-term, permanent damages as a result. If you believe this to be your situation, please get in touch today to discuss your right to potential compensation.