Quest for profit behind patient safety problems in Las Vegas hospitals

Marshall Allen, of the Las Vegas Sun, continues his look at patient safety in Las Vegas hospitals and has been able to boil down the problems to several themes that explain the 3,689 preventable infections, injuries and surgical accidents that happened to Las Vegas hospital patients in 2008-09.lasvegassun

Allen notes that Nevada and the Las Vegas area have more for-profit hospitals than any other state or urban county in the nation. He found that “the corporate push for profits sometimes trumps patient care and can create an environment where best practices give way to risky shortcuts.” Additionally, Las Vegas does not have any academic medical centers, which normally “elevate a city’s health care because of their focus on excellence, innovation and research.” Other problems include staffing, poor oversight and hospitals that cover up harmful incidents.

In this installment, part four of the paper’s “Do No Harm” series, Allen tells of patients who suffered serious wounds, infections and injuries, as well as the story of one man who died after receiving painkillers.

Beyond the data, documents and anecdotes about patients who suffered harm in Las Vegas hospitals, there is evidence from the nurses who work in those hospitals that points to the problem. The Sun published information from a 2005 study about why new nurses quit their jobs in Nevada. The study, published in the Journal of Nursing Administration, found that patient safety issues were the most frequent reasons for leaving among 325 newly hired nurses.

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