Tag Archives: dallas morning news

Dallas hospital CEO claims reporters have a vendetta

The chief executive officer of Dallas’ Parkland Hospital claims a “vendetta” held by the Dallas Morning News‘ investigative team is to blame for “chipping away” at the public’s trust in the hospital.

The newspaper used public records to extensively document billing fraud, poor supervision of residents, preferential treatment for VIPs and patient harm. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services inspected the hospital in July and, less than two weeks ago, the hospital responded by posting its plan to correct deficiencies as required by CMS.

The Morning News reported that the hospital delivered the plan “just ahead of a deadline for addressing the problems or losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal health care funding. If the agency, on reinspection, finds that the patient care deficiencies aren’t corrected, Parkland could lose nearly half its patient revenue.”

The hospital’s board decided yesterday to hire a consultant to “redefine [Dr. Ron] Anderson’s role with the system between now and the end of the year, when his five-year contract expires,” reports Bill Hethcock in the Dallas Business Journal.

Regardless, Anderson says the Morning News‘ coverage is “sincere, but sincerely wrong,” and raises the specter that people in the community will suffer because they won’t come to Parkland to seek care:

“They’ll suffer as much as anything that an investigative reporter thinks he’s doing or she’s doing for the benefit of the patients.”

In January, Maud Beelman, the DMN deputy managing editor who leads the investigative team, wrote about the project for Nieman Watchdog. She detailed some of the struggles they faced to do the project, including efforts to derail the investigation and the backlash from the hospital.

Hospital sues to block release of records

Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the subject of recent reports that patients were at risk, has sued the Texas attorney general in an attempt to prevent the release of records requested by The Dallas Morning News.

Brooks Egerton reports:

Parkland filed the latest lawsuit — its fifth against the AG related to the newspaper — on Monday. This time the goal is to block release of Parkland police department records dealing with the psychiatric emergency room. The News is not seeking medical records.


Reports detail Dallas hospital on brink of losing federal funds

Late Friday, a damning federal report declaring that patients were at risk at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas was released. Even later that same day, Dallas Morning News reporters Miles Moffeit, Sue Goetinck Ambrose, Reese Dunklin and Sherry Jacobsen published their first report online (available to subscribers only).

The reporters write that the inspectors’ findings were released in response to a reform plan the hospital submitted just before its Friday deadline, a plan they report “involves hiring new nurses; rewriting some policies; retraining staff; retiring outdated medicines, supplies and equipment; and launching an intensive series of daily or weekly performance audits over at least the next five months.” According to those who have viewed the 600-page release, they have a lot to overcome.

“It appears safety was routinely relegated to a lower priority by other pressures,” said Vanderbilt University professor Ranga Ramanujam, a national expert in health care safety. “The CMS action is extraordinary. I am hard-pressed to think of an example of a similarly high-profile hospital facing the very real possibility of losing their CMS funding as a result of safety violations.”

The paper’s speedy, thorough response to the release shouldn’t be entirely surprising, considering that they’ve been out ahead of the story from the very beginning.

The top-to-bottom July inspection of Parkland was sparked by a News report of the death of a Parkland psychiatric patient in February. The hospital didn’t report the death to the Texas Department of State Health Services or to CMS, both of which then investigated the case. CMS regulators later determined that the rights of the patient, George Cornell, had been violated repeatedly by Parkland.

The hospital has until Sept. 2 to get its correction plan approved by CMS and to pass inspections, otherwise it could lose the Medicare and Medicaid funds on which it so heavily depends.

Dallas Morning News explores effects of war on military families

For the paper’s series on military families, Dallas Morning News reporter Dave Tarrant has spent four months investigating what he calls the “relentless cycle of crisis and stress” that affects soldiers’ loved ones. The broad series touches on everything from the Fort Hood suicides to the Army’s preventative measures to Tarrant’s latest, “Wife faces life-or-death decision for her war-injured husband.”

Most of the content is behind the Morning News paywall, but there’s enough on the landing pages to, at the very least, help you understand where Tarrant’s investigation has taken him and just how wide-ranging the health effects of prolonged war can become.

Dallas Morning News hospital investigation required extensive use of public records

To understand the scope of The Dallas Morning News‘ “First, Do No Harm” series of investigations into publicly funded hospitals, take a look at the landing page. Spend a few minutes reading headlines (“Parkland CEO: ‘I did 17 amputations’ before getting medical degree” is my personal favorite), checking dates and clicking through to stories and you start to see the bigger picture. On its own, that page tells the tale of how reporters grabbed hold of a story and just wouldn’t let go.

That page ties together no fewer than 25 stories, 16 blog posts, 15 separate primary documents and three videos with a simple introductory paragraph:

UT Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital are known for their contributions to medical research and public health. But those accomplishments have come at a price. The Dallas Morning News investigates allegations of billing fraud, lax resident supervision, preferential medical treatment and patient harm at the publicly funded institutions.

Some of the material dates back to the paper’s 2007 investigation of a hospital giving special treatment to VIPs, but the vast majority of the work was done in 2010.

Of special interest to journalists: Maud Beelman, the deputy managing editor at The Dallas Morning News who leads a team of investigative and special projects reporters, wrote about the project for Nieman Watchdog. She details some of the struggles they faced to do the project, including getting public records, efforts to derail the investigation and the backlash from the hospitals.