When Hospitals Put Profits Before Patients
When patient care in hospitals takes a backseat to corporate profits, patients always lose. They not only lose in overall quality of care, but also when it comes to personal safety. In addition to just plain poor medical attention, some patients become the victims of various forms of criminal abuse, including sexual misconduct by doctors, assault, and rape by both doctors, non-medical staff, and even other patients.
This is perhaps best exemplified by Universal Health Services, (UHS) Inc., of Pennsylvania, which is the largest provider of inpatient behavioral healthcare in the country and a publicly traded company. In the first quarter of 2016, UHS reported gross revenues of $2.45 billion in its disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission. UHS and its staff has also been the subject of numerous government investigations. In a June 2015 letter to The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Congressional representatives Joseph Kennedy III and Danny Davis expressed their concerns about “ongoing federal investigations at 21 UHS-owned facilities” as well as a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the UHS parent company. The letter included a reference to sexual assaults at several UHS facilities. To read the entire letter, go to: http://kennedy.house.gov/sites/kennedy.house.gov/files/06.23.15.UHS%20Letter.pdf.
Since that letter was penned, UHS has reported in filings to the SEC that additional UHS facilities are under federal investigation, and a March 2016 investigative article about UHS by the Dallas Morning News, which used data from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, said that “around the country, government inspectors investigating patient complaints cited 44 of the company’s hospitals for dangerously poor care or unsafe conditions between 2012 and mid-2015.” For more go to: http://interactives.dallasnews.com/2016/danger-in-the-psych-ward/.
In addition to government investigations, UHS is also the subject of lawsuits brought by patients and their families. According to an online article by the non-profit Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which has filed dozens of complaints with state legislators, law enforcement and CMS asking for greater monitoring of UHS facilities, a September 2015 five-plaintiff lawsuit brought against the Rock River Academy and Residential Center in Illinois alleged sexual abuse and rape by facility staffers and unsupervised patients. The local police department reportedly fielded more than 700 complaints about rape and sexual assault against girls at the residential center during a four-year period. That facility is now closed. For the complete article visit: https://www.cchrint.org/2015/09/16/rock-river-psychiatric-center-closed/.
Another recent case is that of Dr. John Francis McGuire at Temecula Valley Hospital, which is owned and operated by United Health Services. Dr. McGuire faces 33 felony counts including sexual assault and rape of patients while under the effects of anesthesia. Hodes Milman and John Mittelman with Mittelman Law Firm represent several female patients who allege they were sexually assaulted by Dr. McGuire.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals considers sexual assault occurring anywhere on hospital property to be a “Never Event,” defined as something that should never occur. So why does it?
Hospitals concerned about their bottom line are not as attentive to minimum staffing requirements as they should be, which can leave patients alone and vulnerable. Poorly trained, unlicensed, or unqualified staff may also be brought in to help fill staffing gaps. Besides the issue of understaffing, inadequate background checks, poor performance monitoring, handoff errors between staff, and lack of adequate reporting and follow up on disciplinary actions by state medical boards against doctors, nurses, and others can all contribute to a reduction in safety for patients and increased opportunities for sexual abuse.
The attorneys of Hodes Milman & Liebeck and The Mittelman Law Firm bring extensive experience investigating and handling cases related to Universal Health Services and other hospitals. If you have been a patient at a Universal Health Services facility or other hospital and believe you have been a victim of sexual misconduct by a doctor, nurse, or other hospital staff, , or if you are a victim any other type of medical malpractice, contact our attorneys today. We provide complimentary case evaluations that are handled with sensitivity and confidentiality. Contact us online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 or The Mittelman Law Firm at (951)719-1412.