Friday, April 10, 2020

Covid 19: Is Marketing in Health Care taking Precedence over Safety? Are some institutions designated as "health-care" suppressing internal information about Covid-19?

This story concerns an elderly physician we'll just call "Dad. " This saga was submitted by his son whose name is being protected by this newsletter since we've not yet called him for further follow up. We're also not yet disclosing the name of the hospital since the hospital itself has so far not had opportunity to respond to this story. Here is what we have learned so far. 

Dad is a private practice internist whose patients include geriatric patients in a rehabilitation hospital. Out of an abundance of caution to protect these patients Dad has been wearing a PPE mask while attending these patients. He felt he was doing the right thing. We are told that the hospital administration did not agree. We are told that the hospital administration was afraid that their patients would worry if they even thought that their doctors were worried about Covid-19. In economic terms the administration worried that families would pull relatives from the hospital, in short, would facilitate early discharge. For the hospital we were told that the concern for a possible medical problem for the patients was being supplanted by an anticipated economic problem for the hospital. 

We are also told that some hospital staff and patients tested positive for Covid and that since then the hospital administration has endeavored to enforce measures to block disclosure of this information. Disclosure is seen as a marketing risk. 

The person who submitted this story to us wrote that "there needs to be recourse for hospitals and administrators that are behaving this way. Making money is not more important than protecting our patients." 

Further follow-up is indicated, not just with reference to the unnamed hospital in this story, but to determine to what extent this narrative pertains to other hospitals and institutions designated as "health-care." We need to ask if the politics of health-care -- what this newsletter is all about -- has taken an ugly turn or not. 

Updated comment, 04/22/20: we've received comments of interest, e.g., some would like the AMA to take up this story whereas others think we should inform Pro Publica. In general, everybody is uncomfortable with the prospect of  physicians being intimidated and silenced by business or political interests. 

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