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Do medical facilities have an obligation and duty to be proactive be protect people, especially children, while they are patients at their facilities? The following letter to the Editor can be found in the August 17, 2012 edition of the Harrisburg Patriot News addressing this important issue and how one south central Pennsylvania hospital may have failed to meet its duty.

Last week, The Patriot-News contained yet another article (Aug. 8) about adults allegedly failing to protect children and to hold abusers responsible.

This time it was Carlisle Regional Medical Center, which was cited by the Health Department for failing to report three cases of possible sexual abuse or assault, including two involving children age 4 or younger, to proper authorities.

According to the article, the medical center’s CEO said the Health Department’s findings were in error. He attributed the situations to “documentation errors” — yet the center has a new plan to ensure such errors don’t recur.

These new citations are the latest in a string of problems the medical center has had. In response to the series of critical Health Department reports, the medical center has, according to the CEO, installed a new chief nursing officer, a new emergency department medical director and a new emergency department nurse director. That must make all the people who were treated prior to the changes feel better.

Pennsylvania’s hospital systems have a duty to not just heal the sick, but also to protect the vulnerable. In this case, apparently one of them may have failed to do enough to protect children.

President, Pennsylvania Association for Justice

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