This is just mind-bogglingly infuriating. From today's New York Times:
HCA, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States with 163 facilities, had uncovered evidence as far back as 2002 and as recently as late 2010 showing that some cardiologists at several of its hospitals in Florida were unable to justify many of the procedures they were performing. Those hospitals included the Cedars Medical Center in Miami, which the company no longer owns, and the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. In some cases, the doctors made misleading statements in medical records that made it appear the procedures were necessary, according to internal reports.NOTE: As the article explains, HCA is a for-profit hospital chain once run by Florida Governor Rick Scott, who left in 1997 amid a scandal that centered on Medicare fraud. Ultimately, the company paid $1.7 billion in reimbursements and penalties. The board removed Scott from his position as CEO. He was not personally accused of wrongdoing.
To return to the main focus of the article, one brave nurse, C.T. Tomlinson, spoke up during a surgical procedure and asked a question of the physician about to insert a stent into a patient:
"Sir, what are going to fix?"Mr. Tomlinson didn't see a blocked artery. The physician asked him if he did not see the 90% blockage. Mr. Tomlinson didn't, and when he sought confirmation from colleagues in the surgical room, they "shrugged."
Mr. Tomlinson wrote a letter describing the incident that prompted an internal investigation. The investigation found that his accusations were correct.
He was fired for it.
What? WHAT? WHAT????????
He was fired for it.
From the article:
“The allegations related to unnecessary procedures being performed in the cath lab are substantiated,” according to a confidential memo written by a company ethics officer, Stephen Johnson, and reviewed by The New York Times.I strongly encourage you all to read the whole article.
Mr. Tomlinson’s contract was not renewed, a move that Mr. Johnson said in the memo was in retaliation for his complaints.
When I read this, I wanted to tear my hair out. There is so much wrong here:
1) Patients were being cut open unnecessarily to make money for the doctors and the hospital. Any person who committed such an act should be charged with assault, and, if the circumstances warrant it, attempted murder. And any higher-up official who sanctioned it or helped cover it up should be charged as an accessory. Any doubt about that?
2) The hero who ratted out his superior, a man who stood up for what's right against someone much more powerful than he, got fired. How can we have laws that allow such an outcome? Such an outcome undermines our safety, which is often protected by whistleblowers.
3) We have to pay, through higher premiums, for all this fraud.
I wish corporations were people (my friend). Then we could send this one to jail.
I'm livid, far more so than I can coherently express in words. How about you?