Edward Hospital settles baby overdose suit for $7 million

December 16, 2013 (NAPERVILLE) — A west suburban hospital will pay a $7 million settlement to the family of a girl who suffered brain damage as a result of a fluid overdose shortly after her birth 10 years ago, the family’s attorneys announced Monday.

Carla and Scott Cooper gave birth to triplets, two boys and a girl, at Edward Hospital in Naperville on Jan. 13, 2003, according to a statement from the law firm Baizer Kolar & Lewis.

A statement from the hospital identified the girl as Rachel Cooper.

The girl was placed on an IV which was supposed to administer 4.5 cc per hour, attorneys said. But after two hours, someone replaced an empty fluid bag and reset the pump for 405 cc per hour, attorneys said.

The girl remained on the increased dosage for 46 minutes before anyone noticed, causing her blood volume to increase by 250 percent and her weight by 20 percent, attorneys said. By the time the mistake was noticed and corrected, the girl had suffered brain damage.

The family’s lawyers claim the hospital was negligent in using an adult IV pump on an infant without programming in safeguards to prevent overdoses.

“We will never understand why Edward Hospital chose to use an adult pump, rather than a neonatal pump, and why they failed to program safety settings into it,” attorney Robert Baizer said in the statement.

The girl is now 10 years old and has developmental delays that require placement in special education classes, attorneys said.

The hospital settled before the suit went to trial and agreed to pay the family $7 million, Baizer Kolar & Lewis said.

“This was an extremely unfortunate incident of medical error, which we deeply regret,” Edward Hospital officials said in a statement.

“It was an isolated incident. We have continued our dedication and focus on improving the quality of care we deliver to all of our patients. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Rachel Cooper and her family,” the hospital statement said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire – Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2013.)

New study will focus on impact of Catholic healthcare growth

Catholic facilities have come under scrutiny because their care policies are governed by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives.

MergerWatch, a New York-based group that advocates against religious interference in medical decisions, plans to update its 2002 “No Strings Attached” report, which found that religious institutions represented 18% of hospital beds and receive half of their revenue from government payers. At the same time, that report argued, some of these hospitals bar access to reproductive health services, limit end-of-life choices for terminally ill patients and restrict sexual health counseling to abstinence-only education.

As Catholic systems have grown in size through mergers and acquisitions, MergerWatch has received numerous requests for an updated report. Modern Healthcare’s 2013 Systems Survey, using 2012 data, found that five of the 10 largest systems by hospital count were Catholic. A sixth, Dignity Health, had recently shed its Catholic identity.

Lori Freedman, a researcher at University of California, San Francisco, who has studied religiously affiliated hospitals, cited a study that found 52% of OB-GYNs at Catholic institutions reported having conflicts with hospital policy. The conflicts involved not only sterilizations and abortions, but also management of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

The issue is sensitive for Catholic healthcare leaders, who say they provide all medically necessary services but do not provide elective services such as abortion that are inconsistent with the bishops’ directives.
Credit to Modern Health
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Budget deal could overhaul Medicare long-term acute-care pay

The bipartisan budget deal reached this week could drag out efforts to overhaul Medicare’s payment formula for physicians as lawmakers pursue a short-term fix and attempt to extend and make other tweaks to Medicare provisions, including significant changes to reimbursement for long-term acute care.

Two influential congressional committees will consider legislation Thursday to repeal Medicare’s contentious sustainable growth-rate formula for physicians.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee will examine legislation that would not only repeal Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula but also replace it with a payment system that rewards quality and performance over volume.

Eric Zimmerman, a partner with McDermott, Will and Emery, said he thought discussions of an SGR fix would come to a boiling point between Jan. 15 and Feb. 7, when lawmakers were expected to negotiate budget reforms as the deadline approached for the country to hit its debt ceiling. But if Congress considers a temporary SGR patch and extends certain expiring Medicare this week, then the clock for the SGR repeal discussions is reset.

“The work that Ways and Means and Senate Finance are doing will hang out there until March,” Zimmerman said.

A source familiar with the negotiations estimated the cost of the short-term SGR fix and the extension of some Medicare programs set to expire at the end of the year—depending on how those so-called extenders are reconciled—to be about $7 billion. To offset part of that cost, lawmakers have proposed some significant changes for the nation’s long-term acute care hospitals.

“It’s surprising in its scope,” Zimmerman said of the LTAC proposals. “This goes well beyond the provisions floated earlier or in the president’s budget,” he added. “It completely overhauls how long-term care hospitals are paid and how they’re defined.”

For instance, one proposed change suggests only paying LTAC prospective-payment system rates for patients who have been in a hospital intensive care unit for at least three days or who have been on a ventilator before being admitted to the LTAC, Zimmerman explained. The CMS had already signaled that it would make changes to LTAC criteria, and the changes proposed in the amendments to this week’s budget agreement would get ahead of the agency on the issue.

“This has been a holy grail for the LTAC community and CMS and Congress for 10 years,” Zimmerman added. “They’ve been trying to come to consensus on how to better define what is an LTAC and how to pay for LTAC services.”