After COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked, the number of Texans dependent on home oxygen equipment was at “an all-time high” when a winter storm overwhelmed the state’s power grid in February, leaving many struggling for air.
En el condado más grande de Texas, una parte desproporcionada de los nuevos pacientes hospitalizados por COVID-19 — hasta un 65% en algunas semanas — han sido hispanos.
Not only are Hispanics catching coronavirus at higher rates in Texas’ largest county, they also suffer some of the worst outcomes.
The busiest hospitals in Houston are increasingly telling emergency responders they cannot safely accept new patients as hundreds of coronavirus patients crowd emergency rooms, and hospitals scramble to open more intensive care space.
In Houston, one of the nation’s fastest-growing coronavirus hot spots, more residents are dying before they can make it to a hospital. Medical examiner data shows that an increasing number of these deaths are the result of COVID-19.
Texas was one of the first states in the nation to ease social distancing mandates. In Houston, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has quadrupled since Memorial Day. “It’s time to be alarmed,” one expert said.
Patients received medications that weren’t ordered by doctors; objects were mistakenly left in patients after surgery; and ultrasound probes were reused without being property disinfected, government inspectors found. The hospital says it is fixing the problems.
Hospital leaders released the scathing government inspection report on Tuesday, along with a plan to correct significant lapses in patient care. The changes follow a yearlong investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle.
In one case, a patient claims a surgeon sewed a major vein closed, causing blood to back up in his head. In the other, a patient alleges that the same surgeon sewed through his colon, filling his abdomen with feces. The lawsuits follow a yearlong investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle.
St. Luke’s in Houston Replaces Its President, Other Top Leaders After Series of Care Lapses, Recent Deadly Error
The sudden removal of the three executives follows a yearlong investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle into widespread problems at the hospital, including deaths in its heart transplant program.
David Kveton died a week after receiving a new heart at the Houston hospital in 2017, and his story was featured in a ProPublica and Houston Chronicle investigation. A new lawsuit alleges a series of medical errors.
Some patients and family members who came to the Houston hospital for liver and lung transplants have complained about the quality of care provided. A St. Luke’s spokeswoman says the transplant programs still meet national benchmarks and argues against focusing on outcomes from a single calendar year.
After becoming the nation’s busiest lung transplant program six years ago, the hospital scaled back the number and difficulty of transplants it performed. For some patients, that meant having to look elsewhere for treatment.
Defibrillator paddles did not work during a patient’s heart transplant in January, and a backup set was not nearby. The transplant ultimately failed, and the patient died two months later. His case was featured in a May article.
St. Luke’s in Houston Replaces Heart Transplant Surgical Director After Program Loses Medicare Funding
The hiring of two outside surgeons comes after Medicare terminated funding to the heart transplant program, citing poor outcomes in recent years. Hospital leaders also hired a new top transplant administrator, saying the new staff members will help move the program forward.
“They’ve Got to Execute You”: St. Luke’s Doctor Faces Discipline After Raising Patient Care Concerns
A Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center physician alleges in a lawsuit that hospital officials retaliated against him for expressing concerns about ICU care. The Houston hospital has denied the allegation in court filings.
The revised rules, proposed this week as part of the agency’s efforts to reduce “burdensome” federal regulations, would no longer penalize hospitals if too many of their patients die following transplants. St. Luke’s in Houston recently lost its Medicare funding for heart transplants for that very reason.
Notes released by a federal agency indicate that one of the hospital’s top heart transplant doctors spoke about “a retiring surgeon” who “wouldn’t stop performing transplants” in explaining a rash of patient deaths. Only Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier matches that description.
Carolyn Dineen King, a senior U.S. Circuit Court judge, resigned from the St. Luke’s board on May 30, two weeks after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle detailed deaths and complications in the famed heart program.
The action is a stunning blow for a historic program that has performed among the most heart transplants in the nation.