Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Union Dues: Did a Replacement Worker Kill A Patient During A Nurse's Strike?

The California Nurse's Association called a one-day strike last week, including at three East Bay hospitals.. The hospitals had to bring in replacement workers. Now a patient has died, apparently because one of the replacements put the wrong tube in the wrong incision: 

The cancer patient who died because of a medical error at Oakland's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center was killed by a nutritional supplement that a replacement nurse mistakenly put into a catheter meant for delivering medicine to her bloodstream, The Chronicle has learned.

The supplement was supposed to be put into a tube that ran into 66-year-old Judith Ming's stomach, said one source close to the investigation. Ming, who suffered from ovarian cancer and had been hospitalized since early July, died early Saturday, soon after the replacement nurse made the mistake.

The nurse, a 23-year-old woman from New Orleans, was in a state of shock after realizing what had happened, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because patient privacy laws prevent public discussion of many of the case's details.
The woman was one of about 500 replacement nurses brought in by Sutter Health to staff its Oakland hospital and two Berkeley campuses when the California Nurses Association called a one-day strike for Thursday. Sutter kept its replacements for five days, locking out its regular nurses until today.
The union employees were among 23,000 nurses in Northern and Central California who walked off the job to protest possible cuts to benefits and services.

The spin from the CNA - last seen connecting Gloria Allred with Meg Whitman's illegal alien maid - is that management "killed" the patient by setting into motion the events leading to the strike, thus leading to the hiring of incompetent replacements, thus leading to a needless death of an innocent patient while self-less, experienced nurses were on the outside looking in. 

Nursa, please!

What did the CNA think would happen when they called a strike? The patients certainly weren't going to leave the hospitals. It was inevitable that replacement nurses would be brought in. Apparently, the company providing the replacements required a minimum of five days service (which ought to give you an idea of what a hassle this strike was for patients and management). Everyone involved says this was a tragic mistake, but that hasn't stopped the CNA from waving the bloody hospital gown of of the late patient. (As if "regular" nurses don't make mistakes). Uhh, maybe the real problem was that the actual nurses decided it was much more important to walk around the hospital waving mass-produced signs, rather than caring for patients, which they always profess to be so concerned for - that's the message of the pro-strike radio ads I keep hearing, anyway. 

There was a tragedy here, no doubt about it. It's too bad the tragedy is little more than a talking point for whiny union members. 

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