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October 21, 2005 - Hospital Negligence Under Investigation

Included in the care at Los Angeles’ Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center are blatant medication errors, excessive delays in care, and neglect of at least one patient who ultimately died.

According to a confidential hospital document King/Drew still suffers from many of the same patient-care problems that has plagued the organization for the past two years.

The recent failings identified in the report help explain the opinion issued earlier this week by county health director Dr. Thomas Garthwaite that King/Drew might well fail an upcoming federal inspection key to its survival.

In one case, according to the report, a nurse alerted a physician trainee to a patient with reduced oxygen levels. At first, the doctor ignored the request, then, when summoned a second time, the doctor said the patient was merely sleeping.  An hour later, the patient went into distress and died.

In another case, a patient with a possible spinal cord injury had to wait four days for a magnetic resonance imaging scan needed for diagnosis and treatment, the document said.

Separately, a resident intentionally administered blood ordered for one patient to another, the document said -- a violation of blood bank rules.

The state Department of Health Services, which was notified of the incidents Wednesday, said it would investigate.

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