Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have an update to my blog of September 16. The patient, who was hospitalized with life-threatening endocarditis (infection of the heart valve), was finally granted the right to have visitors – about fourteen days into his hospital stay. Mission Hospital administrators gave no reason for the change of policy, but I have reason to believe they were feeling some heat from the many people advocating for the patient.

Since this was the patient’s second admission for endocarditis, the chart said cardiovascular surgeons were not going to do a second heart surgery, per hospital policy, because the patient had continued to use drugs intravenously. The patient was told no other hospital would accept him in transfer because he had no insurance. The palliative care team was called in to manage his case, which appears to mean his physicians thought he was going to die without surgery.

Thanks to the efforts of several very tenacious providers at the opioid treatment program where the patient had just been admitted, this case got the attention of many people. Emails flew about the state. The outrageousness of this case got people involved, who got other people involved. Besides the patient’s providers at the OTP, advocacy efforts were undertaken by personnel at the NC State Opioid Treatment Authority (SOTA), the Medical Director of DHHS in NC, the General Counsel for DHHS, and out-of-state help from a lawyer with the Legal Action Center in New York. Patient advocacy groups were helpful, and several other people whom I won’t list by name but know who they are.

Thanks to advocacy efforts, the patient was transferred to Chapel Hill last week, to be evaluated for surgery of his infected heart valve.

I have good reason to believe Mission Hospital had complaints filed against it with the Joint Commission. The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that gramts accreditation to hospitals if they meet certain standards. Accreditation is important, because it affects payment from payers, including Medicare and Medicaid.

I have also heard that a complaint was filed with the Department of Justice, reporting that the hospital violated the patient’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A big meeting was scheduled for October 2, with hospital administrators and the patient’s many advocates, people who were upset with their handling of this patient’s case. Unfortunately, the day before the meeting, Mission administrators canceled, saying it hadn’t been put on their schedule, by some oversight.

By this time, I felt those administrators lacked credibility.

I hope this case gets the attention of hospital leaders. I hope the time has come where hospitals will be held accountable for their mis-treatment of patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). OUD is a completely treatable chronic illness, not bad behavior that deserves the death penalty.

 

 

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary Anne Hughes on October 7, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Bravo Jana for bringing this travesty to everyone’s attention and bravo to all who advocated for this patient! It is so heartening when we speak alone or collectively and someone hears us. It gives us the hope and courage to carry on!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Steve straubing on October 7, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Unfortunately, this moralistic attitude is very prevalent. One valve and you’re out is a concept that shouldn’t exist in 2018. It is only through education that our moralizing colleagues will change.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Brenda Davis on October 8, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I hope this case serves as a warning to those who try to look past us, advocates are out there and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure people with SUD are treated the same as everyone else.This case turned out well, advocacy groups are getting stronger by the day, education is the key.

    Reply

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