Alarming Concerns with Patient Care at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston

There have been numerous reports of inadequate care at some of the most prestigious cardiac centers in the U.S. The scary thing is these issues could have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for some diligent and aggressive news reporters in both Houston and New York. If your little one needs heart surgery or even a heart transplant, you want to know that they’re in the best hands possible. This is why you take them to reputable hospitals like Baylor St. Luke’s in Houston. So, it’s quite disconcerting to find out that even the best of the best isn’t as good as we once thought. Last year, an investigation into St. Luke’s Hospital was initiated when an emergency room patient died as a result of being given the wrong blood type in a transfusion.

When you take your child or loved one to the hospital, you should be able to rest assured that they’re in safe and competent hands. This is even more important when you’re dealing with serious cardiac issues.

State and federal officials launched a thorough investigation of the care and competencies at St. Luke’s last year. The incident was so troubling that St. Luke’s funding for their transplant program was completely cut off. Following this funding freeze, a full-blown investigation of St. Luke’s commenced.

If you or a loved one have been injured by inadequate care at a medical center contact a Houston personal injury lawyer.

St. Luke’s Hospital Was Known as a Premier Cardiac Center

St. Luke’s Hospital is owned by Doug Lawson, CEO of the Catholic Health Initiatives in Texas. They own over 15 hospitals and medical centers. St. Luke’s is the pride of their organization.

St. Luke’s has over 850 licensed beds. Over 4,000 medical professionals and other staff work at the hospital. They are also contracted with close to 7,500 doctors, including some of the most renown cardiac surgeons in the country.

Until a few years ago, St. Luke’s was seen as one of the best cardiac centers in the country. They were put in the same company as University of North Carolina cardiac center. It wasn’t until recently that both hospitals were cited for multiple patient care issues, including specific issues with their heart and organ transplant programs.

The Investigation into St. Luke’s Hospital Revealed Some Troubling Issues

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted an investigation into patient care at St. Luke’s in Houston. They identified several deficiencies with the patient care and organizational standards.

Some of the issues found at St. Luke’s included:

  • Inadequate nursing care
  • Deficient quality assurance program
  • Violations of patient rights
  • Increase in poor outcomes following heart transplants
  • Increased number of deaths in liver and lung transplants

Obviously, investigators were not happy with their findings. Although they didn’t feel it was egregious enough to cut off the hospital’s funding like they did last year, they did issue a formal citation.

There was another issue with St. Luke’s in January of 2018. There was an issue with a piece of operating room equipment that caused a patient’s heart transplant to fail. The patient ultimately died as a result of this issue.

What Was the Hospital’s Response?

After receiving their citation, St. Luke’s administration said they weren’t surprised. They said they were fully expecting the citation and had already put plans into place to improve conditions at the hospital.

This was quite a departure from the hospital’s earlier stance. Following the funding issue the year before, the hospital not only denied that there was a problem within their organization. They actually created a website and took out full-page newspaper advertisements challenging the allegations made about their cardiac and transplant programs.

A few months prior to the state and federal investigation, St. Luke’s Hospital had hired a new team of executives to put an action plan in place. This new executive team is expected to oversee the changes taking place at St. Luke’s in order to correct the cited deficiencies.

Doctors at St. Luke’s said that they weren’t surprised that the hospital was cited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. One doctor in particular said that he was retaliated against when he voiced his concerns to hospital administration.

Several of his patients had complained that they received unnecessary medical treatments while in the Intensive Care Unit. The hospital ignored this doctor’s concerns and, in his opinion, he was punished for bringing it to their attention.

Did St. Luke’s Know More than They’re Letting On?

St. Luke’s isn’t the only hospital to be called into question these past few months. Another former state-of-the-art cardiac center is the University of North Carolina medical center. Like St. Luke’s they were recently called out on the carpet for their poor patient care.

The New York Times published a series of articles about similar issues with UNC cardiac center. Like St. Luke’s, UNC was cited for providing sub-par patient care. They were also identified as having very poor outcomes for heart, liver, and lung transplant patients.

Unlike most other cardiac hospitals, UNC refused to publicly disclose their mortality rates. It was only with heavy prompting by reporters, along with a lawsuit filed by the Times, that the hospital finally revealed their mortality statistics.

UNC was found to have the worst mortality statistics amongst all 82 transplant hospitals nationwide. Doctors, surgeons, and other medical staff at UNC were aware of the issues and reported them to hospital administration.

Like the doctor at St. Luke’s Hospital, these doctors were given short shrift. The New York Times actually captured secret recordings of doctors at UNC discussing the issues with patient care, including:

  • Patient deaths
  • Lack of resources
  • Patient care issues
  • Complications with low-risk heart procedures

When confronted with the recordings, UNC denied any issues with the hospital. They blamed it on past problems and said they had already made the necessary changes to improve patient care.

How Does This Impact Patients?

Thousands of cardiac and transplant patients go to hospitals like St. Luke’s every year. They need and should be able to demand high-quality care. When these hospitals are found to be deficient in so many areas, it compromises both patient care and quality of life.

When hospitals are experiencing things like equipment failures, lack of resources, and medical errors, they open themselves up to liability. Personal injury lawyers in Houston are there to protect patients who are injured or die as a result of these deficiencies.

Some of the potential claims facing hospitals like St. Luke’s and UNC include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Medical malpractice
  • Medication errors
  • Surgical errors
  • Wrongful death

The good news is, there are personal injury attorneys in Houston with the experience to get these patients and their families the justice they deserve.

Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at McDonald Worley in Houston

If you or a loved one was affected by any of the issues at St. Luke’s Hospital, contact a personal injury law firm in Houston today. Patients are entitled to the very best care and when that doesn’t happen, people get hurt.

Your injury lawyer at McDonald Worley will fight hard to get you the compensation your family deserves. Call today and schedule your free initial consultation.


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