Connecticut hospitals reported record numbers of patients killed or seriously injured by hospital errors in 2013, with large increases in the numbers of falls, medication mistakes and perforations during surgical procedures, a new state report shows. The report, covering 2013, marks the first time that the number of so-called “adverse events” in hospitals and other health care facilities has topped 500 – double the number in 2012, when 244 such incidents were reported. Much of the increase was due to an expansion of reporting on pressure ulcers, which added a new category with 233 “unstageable” ulcers that were not counted before. Even without that category, however, reports of adverse events climbed 20 percent over 2012. The most significant increases were in the numbers of patients harmed by foreign objects left in their bodies after procedures – doubling from 12 to 25 in one year — or those harmed by perforations during surgical procedures – 79, compared to 55 the previous year.
State health officials have ordered a New Jersey-based company to temporarily shut down its blood collection facilities in Connecticut because it has been operating them without the necessary state certificate. The state Department of Public Health this month issued a cease and desist order to Accu Reference Medical Laboratory. The department discovered the company was operating two blood draw locations – at 945 Main St. in Manchester and 25 Oakland Road in South Windsor – before it received the necessary certificate of approval, the DPH citation states. As a result, the company was issued a cease and desist order and agreed to halt operations.
A Greenwich doctor who is a registered sex offender in Connecticut and New York was denied a hearing Tuesday on his request to have his Connecticut medical license reinstated. The state Medical Examining Board – which alarmed some patient advocates in 2011 when it voted to allow Dr. Clifford A. Berken to practice with some restrictions following his arrest on sex charges – denied the request from Berken and his attorney Diana Carlino. The state Department of Public Health had objected to giving him a hearing. Berken, a doctor of internal medicine and gastroenterology, had surrendered his medical privileges at Greenwich Hospital and left his private practice in Greenwich, following his arrest in New York in 2008. In 2010, Berken pleaded guilty to charges by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office in New York that he had engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old boy.
Connecticut’s share of funding from the National Cancer Institute has dropped 19 percent since 2010 – a steeper decline than many other states, an analysis of National Institutes of Health (NIH) data show. Federal cancer institute funding to Connecticut fell to $33.4 million in 2014 – down from $41.1 million in 2010. The biggest grantee, Yale University, is receiving $7 million less from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the NIH’s most prominent centers. Overall, NIH research grants to Connecticut fell to $461.3 million – down from $484.4 million in 2010, NIH reports show. Most of that decline was in research awards to Yale, which dropped $25 million.
Six nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health in connection with cases of verbal abuse, a resident who was given morphine by mistake and a resident who broke a bone after jumping out of a window. On Aug. 12, Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury was fined $1,300 in connection with the resident who was hospitalized with a compression fracture of the spine after making the jump, according to the DPH citation. The resident had been admitted on July 18 with pain in the feet, knees and hips from neuropathy that was described as “horrible or excruciating.” The home’s clinical record failed to reflect whether subsequent pain assessments were done or whether the prescribed painkiller, Toradol, was given, the citation states. On July 20, the resident was found outside crawling on the ground at 12:50 a.m., records show.
Ava Passley covered her nose and giggled as Dr. Jacob Hen walked into an examination room at his pediatric pulmonology office in Trumbull recently. Ava, 3, of Bridgeport, knows what to expect from a visit with Hen, having dealt with asthma since she was 1. She also spent several nights in the hospital after an attack in 2012. “I had always heard about wheezing, but had never really heard it before that,” her mother, Beverly Passley said. Ava is part of growing number of people in Connecticut who have used the emergency room for asthma symptoms, according to the most recent figures from the state Department of Public Health.
In Connecticut, a pregnant woman of color is more likely to lose her infant at birth than is a pregnant white woman. A woman of color is less likely to receive adequate prenatal care in Connecticut, and – if she carries to term — more likely to give birth to a low-weight baby, according to a March report from the state Department of Public Health. The state’s racial divide reaches all the way into the womb. A recent report from the Center for Reproductive Rights and other agencies paints a stark picture of racial disparities nationwide, particularly in reproductive care. Women of color are far less likely to have insurance.
The state Department of Public Health has shut down eight blood collection centers because they were operating without a license or certificate. DPH issued a cease and desist order Aug. 29 against BioReference Laboratories Inc. of New Jersey, for operating the unlicensed blood collection centers in Fairfield, Ansonia, Milford, New London, Norwich, Waterbury, Wallingford and North Stonington. The order said that BioReference has a licensed clinical laboratory at 27 Hospital Ave. in Danbury, but that it opened the other labs before receiving a license or certificate to operate them.
Eight nursing homes have been fined more than $1,000 each by the state Department of Public Health in connection with incidents in which residents sustained cuts or broken bones or suffered from lapses in care. DPH fined The Springs at Watermark 3030 Park in Bridgeport $1,440 on July 8 in connection with a Feb. 27 incident in which a resident did not receive prompt IV hydration, records show. Lab results were completed for the resident on Feb. 27, but there was a one-day delay in faxing them to the resident’s doctor, records show.
A Waterbury nursing home has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine and hire a nursing consultant after state health inspections uncovered numerous violations at the facility, including resident neglect and unsanitary conditions. Terms of the agreement, reached between Rosegarden Health & Rehabilitation Center and the state Department of Public Health, are revealed in a July 9 consent order recently released by DPH. Thirty violations were uncovered at the center during a series of unannounced DPH inspections of the facility that occurred between Nov. 25 and Dec. 10, 2013.