The Patriot News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is reporting today about three recent instances at a local Central Pennsylvania hospital where possible sexual assaults were not reported. How does this breach of duty relate to patient safety? Is this a reason to make certain that our medical malpractice damages and laws are made more patient friendly? Do for profit hospitals make them more dangerous?
Carlisle Regional Medical Center failed to report three cases of possible sexual abuse or assault to proper authorities, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Two of the cases involved children of age four or younger.
But the Cumberland County-based hospital disputes the health department’s findings, saying it did report one of the cases, and that a doctor found no evidence of abuse in another, and that one of the patients declined a medical examination.
“As a father and as a CEO, I would never tolerate an environment where we endangered the safety or welfare of a child,” Carlisle Regional CEO John Kristel said.
Kristel attributed the situations to “documentation errors” and said the hospital has enacted a plan to make sure they don’t happen again.
According to the health department, one of the cases occurred in May when a three-year-old child who had sustained “alleged sexual abuse” came to Carlisle Regional, and the hospital made no report to outside authorities.
Another occurred in June and involved a four-year-old whose illness was documented as “alleged child sexual assault.” The case wasn’t reported to authorities, according to the health department.
The third occurred in June and involved a 17-year-old who claimed to be a victim of assault and rape.
According to the health department, the 17-year-old and a parent were told a staffer who handles such cases wasn’t available, and in such instances patients are referred to another hospital. The patient left, and there was no documentation of a report to outside authorities, the health department said.
The health department report, which just became public, is the result of an unannounced investigation by the department, which didn’t say what caused the investigation. It’s the latest in a succession of critical health department reports that began last summer when the health department cited problems including excessively long waits in Carlisle Regional’s emergency department.
In an interview Wednesday, Kristel said the hospital has made assorted improvements since last fall, including a new chief nursing officer, a new medical director for the emergency department, and a new director of emergency department nurses.