Despite the best efforts of health departments across the state, the number of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continues to rise dramatically, mirroring a national trend. According to surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. experienced steep, sustained increases in STDs between 2013 and 2017. In Connecticut, reported cases of syphilis rose 51 percent during the four-year period, while gonorrhea jumped 25 percent and chlamydia rose 27 percent. According to the CDC’s ranking of all 50 states, Connecticut was 27th for reports of chlamydia, 4oth for gonorrhea, and 45th for syphilis. Health officials acknowledge that the rise in reported STDs cases is partially due to better testing and tracking.
Six nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for violations that resulted in residents being endangered or injured. Noble Horizons in Salisbury was fined $6,660 for incidents related to elopement risks. On Sept. 23, 2018, a resident with dementia left the facility when a WanderGuard sensor malfunctioned. A driver in a pickup truck found the resident walking down the facility’s driveway.
Six nursing homes have been cited by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for lapses in care, including two cases in which residents died. DPH fined Hancock Hall in Danbury $10,000 in August in connection with three incidents, including the case of a resident who died in June from complications due to a head injury caused by a fall out of a lift, the state citation said. Four days before the death, the resident was kicking and punching two nurse’s aides who were moving the person in the lift, the citation said. A clip on the lift pad came undone and the resident slipped out of the sling and onto the floor and sustained a head injury. A review found that the aides should have stopped the lift and notified a nurse when the person became combative.
The state Medical Examining Board fined a Greenwich doctor $3,000 on Tuesday for failing to justify prescribing high doses of opioids for patients in 2015 and 2016. The board also reprimanded the license of Dr. Francis X. Walsh, placed his license on probation for six months and ordered him to take courses in medical documentation and controlled substance prescribing, a consent order he agreed to said. In prescribing the drugs in his office practice, Walsh failed to properly document that he had examined the patients and failed to justify “potentially dangerous dosing and combinations of medications,” the order said. During the probation, Walsh must hire a doctor to review his office practice. Walsh has surrendered his state registration to prescribe controlled substances in that practice, state records show.
Connecticut hospitals reported increases in patients suffering from pressure ulcers, as well as serious injuries or deaths associated with falls and burns in 2017, compared to 2016, according to a new state report. Overall, the total number of “adverse events” reported by hospitals dropped from 431 in 2016 to 351 in 2017, a 19 percent decline, the Department of Public Health (DPH) said. But most of the decline was due to the elimination of two categories in 2017: serious injuries or death resulting from perforations during open, laparoscopic or endoscopic procedures; and those resulting from surgeries. Together those categories accounted for 72 adverse events in 2016. The reporting requirement for the two categories was eliminated after a work group of the Quality in Health Care Advisory Committee concluded that the vast majority of perforations that occur during some procedures aren’t preventable, and that serious injuries or death resulting from surgery are already better captured by other categories, the DPH report said.
Stamford Hospital has been fined $55,000 by the state for allowing a phlebotomist to draw blood at a Southington facility before obtaining a certificate of approval to operate. A state Department of Public Health (DPH) inspection at Feel Well Health Center in Southington on or around Jan. 26 found that a phlebotomist who had contracted with Boston Heart Diagnostics in Massachusetts was conducting venipuncture, or puncturing a patient’s vein to draw blood, before Stamford Hospital obtained the necessary written certificate to operate the blood collection facility, according to a consent order signed Sept. 7 by the hospital and DPH. The phlebotomist was collecting and sending specimens to Boston Heart for laboratory analysis and was being paid by Boston Heart to do so, the consent order said.
In 2018, the state took the unusual step of issuing a consent order requiring a New Haven nursing home to hire an independent nurse consultant and implement minimum staffing ratios after inspections at the facility uncovered numerous lapses in care and safety violations. The order, agreed to in April by the Advanced Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation and the state Department of Public Health (DPH), tasked the independent nurse consultant with assessing the staff’s ability to do their jobs and evaluating how care is delivered. The minimum staffing ratios ordered are 30 patients to one licensed nurse on all shifts, on most units; 10 patients to one nurse’s aide on the first shift; 12 patients to one nurse’s aide on the second shift; and 20 patients to one nurse’s aide on the third shift. Officials at the facility didn’t return calls seeking comment. It isn’t often that DPH mandates staffing or requires nursing homes to hire consultants, but the order reflects a broader emerging problem affecting the care provided at many nursing homes: insufficient staffing levels and caregivers who lack training.
Various violations that jeopardized patient safety, including two that preceded patient deaths and several involving the improper use of restraints, have taken place at Connecticut hospitals, according to the most recent hospital inspection reports released by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). The reports, which can be found in C-HIT’s Data Mine section, cover inspections that took place at hospitals between 2016 and this year. Some of the violations resulted in injuries to patients, while others showed lapses in protocols and procedures. Bridgeport Hospital was cited for 26 violations, including an incident in which a patient with a diagnosis of an ovarian mass suffered a burn during surgery. Hartford Hospital was cited for 60 violations, including two violations that preceded patient deaths.
In May 2017, Maura B. Gallagher entered Stamford Hospital for a Cesarean section for her unborn fraternal twins. According to a lawsuit filed by her family, Gallagher was 38 and an avid skier who was dedicated to her family, which included her fiancé, Max Di Dodo. There were signs that her pregnancy was challenging. At a little over 37 weeks, Gallagher, of New Canaan, showed signs of a low platelet count. The condition, known as thrombocytopenia, affects 7 to 12 percent of pregnant women.
The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has fined four nursing homes following staff errors and lapses in care earlier this year. Gardner Heights Health Care Center in Shelton was fined $3,480 after a resident who was known to have difficulty swallowing choked on a lasagna noodle. The resident choked in a dining room on April 24. Staff performed the Heimlich maneuver several times with no success, according to DPH. When the resident subsequently was suctioned, a three-inch-long lasagna noodle was removed; the resident soon became more responsive, had improved color and began talking again.