CARSON CITY, Mich. -- The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs recently concluded an investigation into Sparrow Carson, in which they found the hopsital had failed to maintain a sufficient infection control program between January and October 2017, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The report also found that the hospital failed to properly document, review and evaluate instances of infection during this time.
The investigation began after a Sparrow Carson nurse anesthetist, Jonnie Vanderhoef, submitted complaints to the state regarding the hospital and, in particular, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Raymond Allard.
"In recent months he has been demonstrating more and more bizarre and alarming behaviors, including intentionally leaving surgical sponges inside an infected surgical wound and closing it," Vanderhoef wrote in his complaint, according to the Lansing State Journal.
When state investigators asked Allard why he performed such a practice, he responded that it was a procedure used "in the old days."
The federal report investigating Sparrow Carson infection rates did not name Allard as the surgeon in question, but instead identifies the surgeon as "Staff I." According to the Lansing State Journal, the hospital declined to confirm the identity of "Staff I."
The report reviewed nine orthopedic surgeries that occurred in 2017 after which a patient had to return to Sparrow Carson to either have a surgical revision, an incision to drain a wound, or treatment for a surgical site infection.
Among the nine cases, "Patient #1" received particular emphasis in the report. Patient #1 was a 59-year-old woman who underwent a total knee replacement at Sparrow Carson in July 2017, and the surgical site became infected soon after.
Despite the fact that the infection was documented as being resistant to the antibiotics levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin, the patient was still prescribed levofloxacin twice to treat it.
Patient #1 returned in September and again in October to receive an incision to drain the infected surgical wound. During the third surgery in October, "Staff I" packed the wound with gauze, despite concerns from operating room staff.
Moreover, the woman's infection was documented in her personl files, but was absent from the hospital's Infection Control report for "Staff I." His report noted that he had zero surgical site infections for July and September.
The hopsital also told investigators that the woman's infections were not counted as healthcare-associated, meaning that it stemmed from a hospital procedure or device. The staff member said that it was because "the patient had a lot of risk factors, and was non-compliant," according to the Lansing State Journal.
Upon questioning from investigators, the staff member said that an infection of a joint replacement was considered healthcare-associated if it appeared within nine days of surgery. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that the correct criteria is 90 days.
All nine of the cases reviewed by investigators involved infections that had appeared within 90 days of the initial surgery performed by "Staff I."
Barb McQuillan, the hospital's chief operating officer, said that peer review and surgeon interviews related to "Staff I's" infection rates revealed that the patients involved "had multiple risk factors that placed them at a higher risk than average for post operative infection."
More broadly, investigators discovered that hospital officials failed to maintain documentation of incidences of infection, the antibiotics used to treat them, dates of onset, locations, or the dates of the patient's admission or surgery.
As a result of the investigation's conclusions, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified Sparrow Carson on Feb. 6 that it would lose its Medicare partnership and payment for Medicare cases unless it could submit a satisfactory plan of correction.
In response, Sparrow Carson promised changes to be made in regards to executive leaders and physicians by Feb. 16, as well as long-term changes to leadership management and an analysis of the hospital's infection prevention program.
It was announced in February that Allard was voluntarily suspending his privileges, and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Thompson was no longer affiliated with the hospital.
Also in February, Vanderhoef filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Sparrow Carson, alleging that he was fired in November because of his complaints.
Hospital officials have declined to comment on whether it has similar infection issues at other hospitals in the Sparrow Health System.
Michigan Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Hospital Infections
When a doctor or nurse makes a mistake in their medical care of a patient, the hospital can be held liable for injuries caused by the error. Hospital error can include infections brought on by improper surgical techniques as well as other injuries caused by the improper treatment of infections.
Many medical procedures have inherent risks and illnesses can have poor outcomes even with the best of care. However, one should be aware that errors do take place.
If you suspect that your injury or the death of a loved one was caused by the negligence of a medical care provider, it is best to consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Often, medical malpractice victims do not receive any compensation for their injuries simply because they do not realize that they were a victim.
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