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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

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12/11/2012 5:00:00 PM
Hospital receives 'F' grade from patient safety advocacy group

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - Blythe's Palo Verde Hospital has earned an "F" grade for doctors' misdiagnoses of illnesses, patients picking up infections and suffering injuries in the hospital and erroneous medication prescriptions.

The failing grade came from The Leapfrog Group, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that surveys patient care data to analyze the safety of hospital patients.

It says the Palo Verde Hospital is one of 25 hospitals in the nation receiving an "F" grade.

The key statistics The Leapfrog Group uses to evaluate a hospital's safety include a doctor's misdiagnosis of an illness, infections incurred by patients in the hospital, injuries and the erroneous medication prescriptions by doctors.

Missy Danforth, senior director of hospital ratings at The Leapfrog Group, said the group grades hospitals on their performance on 26 measures of safety.

"Specifically, the composite score looks at how well hospitals put structures and processes in place to keep patients safe and at their actual incidences of accidents, injuries, and infections," Danforth said. "Hospitals that received poor grades need improvement in both areas - putting processes in place to keep patients safe and reducing their incidents of accidents, injuries and infections."

Doctors at Palo Verde Hospital receive privileges at the hospital from the Medical Executive Committee (MEC), which is comprised of doctors who already have privileges at the hospital. Hospital administrators and the CEO have no say in which doctors work at the hospital.

While the Healthcare District Board does ratify the medical staff recommendations, the board has overruled the medical staff only once in the past 10 years. In July of 2008, the staff refused privileges to Dr. Joseph Elisha, a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist with privileges at Desert Regional Medical Center and JFK Hospital, both in the Coachella Valley.

When the board voted to grant Elisha privileges despite the medical staff's negative recommendation, the MEC sued. The staff dropped the suit when three new board members, Sandy Hudson, Jim Carney and Tim Maley won election the following November and Elisha never received privileges at the hospital.

Despite the seeming indictment of the medical staff, Dean J. Smith, of Taylor Blessy LLP of Los Angeles, attorney for the medical staff, blamed the former board and hospital administration for the problems incurred by hospital patients and said that the poor ranking of Palo Verde Hospital is not at all a surprise to the medical staff.

"For more than 10 years we have been fighting to stop the politics, favoritism, nepotism and cronyism on the part of certain members of the Board and its Administration which has quite often put the Medical Staff under attack for its patient advocacy," Smith wrote in an e-mail to the Times. "Our point all along has been that this is harmful to patient care. Now there is empirical evidence."

Smith said that interference by "certain members of the board" and its administration with the "hardworking nurses of this hospital" and a lack of cooperation with the medical staff has often delayed and prevented needed reforms.

"Imprudent and unnecessary hiring and promotion within the Administration as well as outrageously high and unwarranted executive salaries have taken money away from an already limited budget which could have and should have been used to pay for needed equipment upgrades and additional nursing care," he wrote. "The bottom line is that this report confirms that the people of Blythe got it right in the last election. The James Carney led majority, which included Quitty Piñon, Catalina McLain and Rosalie Carlton, controlled the Board during the time this Ranking was done and they are responsible for the mess Palo Verde Hospital currently finds itself in. Fortunately, the Medical Staff was able to prevent the lame duck Board led by Mr. Carney from causing any further damage after the election by obtaining a restraining order. The Medical Staff now looks forward to a period of cooperation with the newly installed Board. Together, we hope that we can put Palo Verde Hospital back on the right track so we can avoid lists like this one in the future."

Former Board President Jim Carney said that in the four years he served on the district board, he never once made a diagnosis of a hospital patient's illness or prescribed medication for them.

"But if the doctors want to blame me for that, go ahead," he said.

Hospital administrators responded that Palo Verde Hospital submits all of its quality and safety data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and to the Joint Commission.

"Currently we are accredited with the Joint Commission and do not participate in The Leap Frog Survey process," said CEO Peter Klune. "The Leapfrog Group is a private not-for-profit organization used by some hospitals to measure safety."

Klune said that in reviewing the data of what is used to calculate the Leap Frog scores, several areas from the hospital are listed as "not available," resulting in a score based on partial and incomplete data.

"At Palo Verde Hospital our sample size, in most cases, is small, and can produce misleading results," he said. "We agree with UCLA, which is also on this list, that 'hospital report-card methodologies used by various quality improvement groups are inconsistent' and must be looked at with caution."

Klune said that Palo Verde Hospital is committed to providing safe, high-quality care, with the best customer service to patients and the community.

"In achieving this goal we have put forth education through committees for employees and physicians and acquired new equipment with the latest in technology. We continuously strive forward to ensure evidenced based practice and patient satisfaction. Our passion for helping people live healthier lives is at the heart of who we are today, with high-quality patient care, comfort, and safety in mind."

According to its website, "The Leapfrog Hospital Survey is the gold standard for comparing hospitals' performance on the national standards of safety, quality, and efficiency that are most relevant to consumers and purchasers of care."

The group formed 14 years ago when it realized employers were spending billions of dollars on health care for their employees with no way of assessing its quality or comparing health care providers. Using 26 national measures of safety, The Leapfrog Group calculates a numerical safety score for all eligible hospitals in the U.S. then converts the numerical safety score into one of five letter grades, A, B, C, D and F.

The Hospital Safety Score uses national performance measures from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to produce a single score representing a hospital's overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. In addition, it uses secondary data from the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey to give hospitals as much credit as possible toward their safety score.

Related Stories:
• Dr. Mofu arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence
• TIMES EDITORIAL: District Attorney Paul Zellberbach owes Blythe more than an apology
• Sahlolbei sues hospital in federal court
• Hospital Board voids meeting citing Brown Act violations
• Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts
• COLUMN: Bah! Humbug, Dr. Scrooge
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Medical staff needs to take responsibility for failing grade
• Medical staff awarded temporary restraining order to halt contracting of surgical services
• Medical staff seeks to restrain Healthcare District Board from contracting out surgical services
• Sahlolbei attorneys file demurrer in response to suit
• Anesthesiologist resigns over alleged harassment
• Sahlolbei no stranger to courtrooms: Hospital Chief of Staff has sued at least 17 people in Riverside Courts since 2000

Related Links:
• The Leapfrog Group
• Board responds to doctors' lawsuit
• Healthcare District files lawsuit against hospital surgeon, Hossain Sahlolbei

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013
Article comment by: @ Follow the Money

You are correct, it is suspicious!
Then she abstained from voting on Dr. Barth's contract....
Wonder why? Ask Dr. S!
If only Blythe was told the whole TRUTH!

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013
Article comment by: Follow the Money

You are right on with his agenda to control and make people believe his heart is in the right place. He receives the help he needs from certain board members. Many people at the last PVH meeting had questions on why is it that Sandy Hudson was busy discussing secret stuff with (deleted) prior to entering into the closed session. Do you think that the good doctor is being informed of information that he should not have? Looks suspicious don't you think?

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: just me

My friends, the good doctors intentions are to close the hospital so he can open it as a urgent care facilty..This has been his goal for the last ten years...If he is any kind of a man Iam sure he will admit that..As he has outside and after board meetings talk to people about it....We may not always have a hospital but we will always have him and his group providing emergency care ..Sad but true...

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

You Know people, I was thinking. Like who would benefit the most if this hospital closes. Well let's just say, If it closed, and if I was a Doctor I could open an Emergency Clinic plus if I had someone that could take care of the emergency transportation to the Clinic by land and then do an Emergency transport by air. They would make a killing. Since this hospital transports most of all of it's emergency case's. The code word is "EMERGENCY" Maybe this is why this Hospital is being killed little by little. They would be their own Bosses no middle man no big overhead to run this operation. Just a Clinic, Ambulance,and a Airplane and someone to run the in Office. 3 main people could pull this off. Just another tidbit to chew on.

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: @ Concerned Citizen

So True!
I heard we are losing our ER BOARD CERTIFIED Doctors so that (deleted) can have his non Board Certified ER doctors back in control of your care and transportation choices!!!!
Come on its time to speak up or do you not care to have notch healthcare.
(deleted) can not control the present Board Certified Doctors so out the GO!
Sure Trina, Jeff Getchel and Sahlolbei will profit but will YOU?

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Citizen

The time is near! The hospital is still bleeding profusely and still no real solutions from HSF consultants!
Time to change Surgery to elective only, we do very few emergency surgeries if any at all. Then eliminate On-call pay for Surgery and OB!
Reduce On-call for Medical to $250 a day from $500.
Eliminate all directorships not required by law!
Reduce staff pay to what is normal for a 25 bed hospital (do not factor in Prisons) we do not work for the State Prisons. Some might feel that hazard pay is justified because of our Medial Staff though!
Eliminate positions not needed.
It is time to act and stop listening to Dr S's mouth pieces on the Board.
Hudson, Burton and Sartin only push the MEC agenda that will enrich the MEC and close the Hospital! Patient care be dammed!

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: @Karen Preston

Which brings up another subject. WHY won't the "saints" of the MEC allow doctors like Dr. Chua and others in town use the hospital? That is beyond reason. Doctors have come and gone, but have been denied. If the hospital needs more patients to fill the hospital and keep it open, this is beyond understanding, though not beyond knowing. We need doctors, but MEC finds some excuse to deny certain ones. Perhaps those who can't be bought? Now there's a thought!

Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Article comment by: Blythe's Entertainer U2CanBeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Does anyone in town know if there is a "Hospital Closing DATE/ POOL" going around? I know there may be some folks wanting in on that action! I do not participate in pools, but Vegas might have odds on that......

Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Article comment by: Karen Preston

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 I was having super bad chest pains. Theyy ruled out my heart with an inconclusive EKG. So then it must be pnamonia I can't spell that. Misdiagnoses they gave me meds for that. They also gave me a catscan then I never knew about. They could not control the pain with Morphine so they knocked my out. I was there from 8:00am until after 3:pm. I never had any chest congestion, cough, nothing, so like this was a suprise. I went to see my Dr. Chua who dosen't work Wednesday or I would have seen him. Withen in a minute of our visit, he let me know I had hurt a musle in my chest and back from activity I had done. It took a day to swell. Really P.V.Hospital. You almost did me in giving me Morphine when I already had breathing problems. I will DIE before I EVER go there AGAIN.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: just me@david Ramos

David it may very well be true,that leapfrog did not investigate the hospital..How ever we have many travel nurses that could very well be affiliated with leapfrog and is providing under the table information.I don't think it is possible for any organization to publish information at just random guessing.That I think would make them liable for a law suit.and if you noticed our (deleted) Dr Sahlolbei hasn't filed any thing yet..

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: near-miss prescription error

During a late night ER visit recently, I had to argue with an emergency room doctor over a prescription for medication that I AM ALLERGIC TO! I knew that the medication in question should not be taken by me because of the ridiculous tv commercials that disclose all the possible problems with a drug- but this man, half asleep mind you, had the nerve to tell me that I was wrong but he would look into it just in case. As it turned out I was absolutely is it that DOCTORS who prescribe these medications are not familiar with their chemical compositions? Furthermore, how is THAT the fault of the hospital board?

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Nice Try


Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Aj McKay

@David Ramos look at that article you suggested. Other than the fact that Leapfrog is a private organization that is not credible by ANY government organization, that list (not credible list) is in alphabetical order by state. Thus the reason why Blythe is third on the list. Although the list is irrelevant, we do not know the actual scores of those hospitals. Leapfrog's score is based on filling out a survey. They do not visit the hospitals. If Eisenhower Hospital was given the survey but refused to participate in the survey, they would have an "F" grade as well.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Robert Pinon

1.Wiregrass Medical Center, Geneva, Alabama
2.Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, Hollister, California
3.Palo Verde Hospital, Blythe, California
4.University of California Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
5.Western Medical Center Anaheim, Anaheim, California
6.Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, Georgia
7.Madison Memorial Hospital, Rexburg, Idaho
8.Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
9.Jersey Community Hospital, Jerseyville, Illinois
10.Loretto Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
11.Norwegian American Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
12.Roseland Community Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
13.Daviess Community Hospital, Washington, Indiana
14.Richardson Medical Center, Rayville, Louisiana
15.Texas County Memorial Hospital, Houston, Missouri
16.Holy Rosary Medical Center, Ontario, Oregon
17.Clarendon Memorial Hospital, Manning, South Carolina
18.Wallace Thomson Hospital, Union, South Carolina
19.Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville, Beeville, Texas
20.Gulf Coast Medical Center, Wharton, Texas
21.Renaissance Hospital, Houston, Texas
22.Renaissance Hospital Dallas, Dallas, Texas
23.Renaissance Hospital Terrell, Terrell, Texas
24.Buchanan General Hospital, Grundy, Virginia
25.Valley General Hospital, Monroe, Washington

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Article comment by: David Ramos

Google "25 Worst Hospitals in The U.S.-Health News". See where our hospital is rated at. Its pretty sad of all the Hospitals in this country where our is rated at.

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