The Daily

Lee Memorial and Quality Fraud


In the last weekly blog, we learned that medical error is the third leading cause of death: “Metrics For A New ‘Patient Centric Safety Movement'”. Since the IOM and Johns-Hopkins studies referenced there, the news has grown worse: The Washington Post now reports medical errors are the third leading cause of death.

Quality Fraud is a growing and frightening issue in our Hospitals and clinics. One solution is found in an article I re-posted from the Wall Street Journal last year.

“Clues to Better Healthcare From Old Malpractice Lawsuits”

Recently, Lee Memorial Hospital in Lee County, Florida was fined millions for unacceptable safety violations leading to serious and unnecessary harms to their patients.

“Lee Memorial Health System Losing 2-4M For Safety Incidents”

This could have been avoided if Lee Memorial had learned the lesson from old lawsuits as recommended by the Wall Street Journal. Years ago, I identified – with the help of experts in critical care medicine reviewing documents Lee Memorial was forced to produce by Court Orders – an institutionalized level of quality fraud adversely affecting patient outcomes at Lee Memorial. Obviously, the Hospital’s peer review and the sentinel event reporting and subsequent investigation by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals were not sufficient to protect the local patient population.

The fact that the Government – Lee Memorial is a governmental tax district and operates as a part of the municipality with “sovereign immunity” – has a monopoly on Hospital Services in this County of over half a million people is cause for serious concern. The same government health care monopoly also owns a majority of the local physicians and their office practices. The CEO of these Government Hospitals, despite working for the taxpayers – makes an annual salary of almost a million dollars even as his patients are being underserved by the Government Monopoly. The monopoly and political power afforded this behemoth may not be serving the local population well. This is particularly true where the healthcare in the state is in a constant state of flux and the delivery, billing and quality systems are so opaque that consumers cannot evaluate them for what they are.

Earlier this year, just five months after being fined millions for patient safety violations, Lee Memorial announced a name change:

Lee Memorial Name Change Proposal

Public relations strategies like Lee’s name change do nothing to improve patient care and safety. They are designed only to mask the underlying problems. Make sure your lawyer is experienced in aggressively litigating issues of medical error and quality fraud – especially if you or a loved one have serious or catastrophic injuries. It could mean the difference between being compensated fully and being taken advantage of.