Keeping the Lid on Our Hospital

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital (HMNH) is being sued.  This is not unexpected news as it is a health care facility caring for ill patients where expectations are high, and outcomes can be unpredictable.

Surprisingly though, the $31 million lawsuit is brought by hospital nurses claiming they were not payed appropriately in the past:

Vasserman vs. Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital

This information was revealed to me by nursing, and not through the physician Medical Executive Committee (MEC) of which I am a member.  As a matter of fact, in the five years I have served, we have NEVER been apprised of ANY hospital lawsuits.  Should we be?  Not all lawsuits require doctor input, but certainly there must be a few requiring adjustments in policies or procedures that might lead to improved patient care.

One would also expect in any hospital setting, written complaint letters from patients or families concerning care.  These never reach the MEC either. 

Similarly, when physicians have complaints, there is a hospital “hotline” where problems are dictated and submitted to the MEC.  These have been rendered inconsequential as the complaints get redacted secondary to “confidentiality”, or lost in the quagmire of administrative editing.

Hospital leadership is composed of the Board of Directors, Administration, and MEC.  Function is predicated on teamwork guaranteeing all aspects of responsibility are aligned assuring maximal patient care is rendered.  But at our hospital, the Administration and Board of Directors have neutralized input of doctors by not providing information to the MEC.

Could lack of physician input at HMNH effect quality of care?  Of course.  Complaints intentionally sequestered by Administration is their attempt to “keep the lid on” and dodge unsavory criticism.  Why?  One of many reasons might be if their reputation is sullied, it will adversely effect the building of their new hospital tower.

A new tower will not eliminate old problems, and patient care will continue to be compromised. 

Personal criticism serves each of us as feedback, which if recognized, improves our approach to life.  Shouldn’t a hospital do the same?

Therefore, I make the following suggestions:

  • To the public, should you have a complaint:  Send a letter directly to your doctor, or a member of the MEC.
  • To physicians:  Contact your department chair, or MEC member directly.
  • To the Administration and Board of Directors:  Allow open dialog free of censorship encouraging input from all sources with the intention of improving patient care.

The nurses’ lawsuit has nothing to do with the current impasse their union has in negotiations with the hospital.  Ironically, in light of the ongoing lawsuit, disagreement from the hospital centers on one point:  Nurses be allowed only arbitration, and give up their right to sue.

Sometimes, suing is the American way to fight for rights.  Censorship, editing, redacting, and “keeping the lid on” has proven to eliminate whistleblowing voices and our right to free speech.  This type of nurse and doctor suppression at our hospital removes valuable input that might improve overall patient care. 

Send us your complaints.

But if you want to be heard, don’t send it to the Administration or Board of Directors.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

Leave a Comment