Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Killers Of Killer King! Coming Soon To Your Neighborhood!

Below is my article in CITYWATCH:

The Killers of Killer King! Coming Soon To Your Neighborhood!

By Brady Westwater

After decades of ‘reforms’ and more money being spent there than on any hospital in the County health system – infamous ‘Killer King’ Hospital (the former Martin Luther King/Dew Medical Center now called the King-Harbor Hospital but still known as 'Killer King') in Watts still kills the patients whose lives it is supposed to save.

And that is just considering high profile deaths such as when a person dies a slow agonizing death on the floor of an emergency room as cameras recorded her death and a janitor swept around her and not one of the dozens of medial professionals who walked by bothered to see if the person needed helped. Many more patients are killed on a regular basis by unnoticed errors or easily hidden incompetencies. It is almost certain that far more than the deaths, lost limbs and needless life-changing infirmities are occurring on a daily basis than we will ever know about.

All we can ever know for certain is that the past corrupt administrations and their practices have created a culture of incompetence once thought could only be found in a third world country, even though, to repeat myself, far more money is spent per patient at King than in any other facility in the county medical system.

So how bad is the situation still at Killer King? To begin with, an outside auditor just checked the records of 60 random emergency room cases to see how they were handled. And this review relied upon the records complied by the people who did the care, which might not fully reflect what was actually done – or not done.

So how many of these 60 cases were ‘mishandled’?

One? Two? Three?


Seventeen out of sixty.

That means that you have an almost one in three chance of being put into “immediate jeopardy” at the King Emergency Room – after years and millions being spent retraining the present staff, even after many of the worst offenders have been fired or moved to other institutions.

Another indicator of the situation’s hopelessness is that around 60% of the registered and licensed vocational nurses at King recently failed parts of their minimal competency exams. That figure is bad enough – but what no one is willing to say is that these are exams these nurses are being coached and trained to pass. And yet a majority of the nurses at King are still incapable of getting even a minimal passing score.

So if they can not even pass these exams they are specifically being coached to pass – how can they perform in real world situations that far more complex?

In contrast, less than 5% of the nurses failed their tests over at the County’s Harbor-UCLA Hospital.

For too many decades the people of South Los Angeles have been subjected, for strictly political reasons, to a level of health care that would not be tolerated by the Supervisors in any other part of this county.

And as for how this problem was going to be fixed – the Supervisor’s solution was a simple one; they ordered the people responsible for the disastrously low level of health care at Killer King – the worst of the worst – to be transferred to all the other hospitals and medical facilities scattered around Los Angeles County.

This is a solution?

Even more shocking, the only reason this ‘solution’ has been considered a failure by the Supervisors is that King has only managed to unload about one-third of staff from King onto other neighborhood medical facilities.

So why hasn’t there been a public out cry about this? Why haven’t the NC’s and every other organization protested this deadly lowering of the standards of medical care throughout Los Angeles County?

I expect it is because the public simply does not know the Supervisor's solution to the problems of Killer King – is to move King’s most deadly staff to every other hospital, health center and neighborhood clinic in the system.

And yet there is another solution.

For some time there has been talk of declaring a public health crisis, suspending civil service rules and firing every person at King (and all those who have been transferred from King) and then allowing them all to instantly reapply for their jobs. That way, whoever is chosen to run the new King Hospital – can rehire only those people who should be rehired.

But time is running out for even this solution. It is likely that the Feds next month will pull the plug on Killer King – and leave South Los Angeles without a critically needed facility unless the Supervisors take this admittedly drastic step.

But the Supervisors would first need to guarantee that King will remain open. They also need to guarantee that the new King will have both an emergency room and a trauma center - and that the rest of the county medical system will be protected from the medical staff that has already been transferred from King due to incompetence. And this needs to be done now. Before the Feds shut down King for good and it is too late to do anything.

The people of South Los Angeles have suffered long enough. They deserve better.

But, then, so does everyone else in Los Angeles.

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