Despite a dark past which includes pedophile pediatricians, doctors who thought that a patient was being physically hurt by evil spirits, the well-documented 16-month physical and mental torture of Justina Pelletier, a history of discredited allegations of infanticide against innocent caregivers by questionable staff, the attempted importation of a doctor from “an America-hating Iranian militia,” and now the preventable death of one child and the administration of overdoses of the dangerous drug Propofol to 2 others, Boston Children’s Hospital continues to enjoy both the top-ranking of US News and World Report and the largest share of federal funding of any such institution nationwide – over $300 million annually.
Boy, it must be nice to be affiliated with Harvard. You see, many people who wouldn’t bring their child for a haircut at a barber college which has a good record are quick to seek appointments for their sick kids at Harvard’s primary pediatric teaching and research affiliate, Boston Children’s Hospital, even though it has a bad one. And by shielding the facility through its association with their reputations, neither Harvard nor US News and World Report are helping parents choose better, non-exorcist-based pediatric care.
In the latest scandal to rock Boston Children’s Hospital, one child died of a sepsis infection after administration of a vital antibiotic was delayed for 14 hours and 2 others were given overdoses of the powerful sedative Propofol, the same drug involved in the death of Michael Jackson.
According to a front page report on Monday in the usually-all-too-Harvard-friendly festering fungal rag known as the Boston Globe, these most recent mistakes, “prompted regulators to threaten the hospital with potential termination from the federal Medicare program,” and such threats are issued upon finding “substantial violations of rules.”
However, you can almost always count on the swamp not to drain itself and the Globe also noted that such terminations rarely actually happen.
For his part, Dr. Jonathan Finkelstein demonstrated a talent with understatement that has probably served him well during his tenure as the chief of patient safety and quality officer at Boston Children’s Hospital when, considering that these mistakes didn’t occur during a complex surgery but in the basic administration of medicine, he issued what seemed like a cop out to the Boston Globe, by saying, “we are not perfect.”
And while that much is undoubtedly true, Finkelstein’s next statement to the Globe, that after a mistake, “we set out the very next day to improve care,” seems just as dubious as the stories of Globe reporter Kevin Cullen, who is now under investigation for his claims about where he was and what he was doing during the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon.
As the Globe noted, the first Propofol overdose occurred in January 2017, when a physician in training “gave a patient 50 milligrams of the anesthetic instead of the intended dose of 15 to 30 milligrams. A nurse had filled a syringe with more than one dose, but the doctor did not know that.”
So, according to the Globe, in April – far from “the very next day” – a committee at Boston Children’s recommended a new policy, “requiring that each syringe contain just one dose of Propofol based on the patient’s weight.”
However, the Globe found, “that change never occurred.” Then, in October, 10 months after the first overdose and even further from “the very next day,” the paper found another physician in training “gave a patient 60 milligrams of Propofol instead of 10 milligrams as intended. The patient’s blood pressure plummeted and breathing stopped, but the patient was resuscitated. As of Nov. 24, the change apparently had still not been implemented, according to the inspection report.”
Finally, the Globe reported, “[Boston] Children’s [Hospital] issued a hospital-wide alert stating that when medications are handed off to another clinician, only a single, labelled, weight-based dose can be prepared in a single syringe.”
That’s one problem down (hopefully), and as you can see from the links in my opening paragraph, many, many more to go. In the meantime though, the local barber college isn’t looking too shabby compared to number 1-rated, Harvard-affiliated, Boston Children’s Hospital:
US News and World Reports did not answer a request for comment as to how this string of incidents and the history of other problems enumerated above might affect its ranking of Boston Children’s Hospital this year.