Saturday, May 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Childrenís Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institutionís lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by failing to report surgical mistakes at its Heart Institute, including leaving a small needle in a newbornís aorta. All Childrenís has acknowledged "challenges," but violations this serious involving the most vulnerable patients require far more openness, particularly given the hospitalís long reputation for outstanding care and its revered standing in the city.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last month about a 2016 surgery on a 3-day-old baby born with a heart condition. Dr. Tom Karl repaired the girlís underdeveloped aorta using donor tissue, but when he finished, a small suture needle was missing. Katelynn Whippleís medical records say Karl looked for the needle but couldnít find it. Katelynnís parents say he didnít disclose it to them and denied it was there when they questioned him. They learned about the needle from another doctor who discovered it in her medical records during a follow-up visit, and they later had it removed at another hospital. Thatís not how high-level care of a medically fragile newborn should proceed or how young parents should be treated.

THE LATEST: All Childrenís never told state about needle left in baby

The response from All Childrenís since details of this case were reported has been confusing and contradictory. The hospitalís CEO, Dr. Jonathan Ellen, said the hospital reports to regulators when anything goes wrong, adhering to a critical system of self-policing that protects patient safety. Yet it didnít tell the state about the needle left in Katelynn or one left in another child since 2016. Ellen also said hospital policy dictates that parents be informed about problems. But Katelynnís parents say they werenít told.

The hospital cited a study about needles left in body cavities and said leaving one smaller than 10†millimeters in a patient is allowed under its policies when it is intentional by the surgeon and "in the best interest of the patient." But for it to be intentional, Karl, the surgeon, presumably would have acknowledged it was there. Ellen also claimed that some organizations donít even count surgical needles to ensure all are accounted for. Pointing out sloppy medical procedures at other hospitals is no way to restore trust in All Childrenís.

Ellen acknowledges the Heart Institute has problems. It has reduced the number of heart surgeries itís performing, and it is referring the most complex cases elsewhere. But Ellen has refused to release last yearís heart surgery mortality rate, leaving the impression that the news isnít good. With the revelation that All Childrenís broke the law by keeping its errors from state regulators, releasing all available data to the public is paramount.

All Childrenís sent the right signal, finally, when it pledged to comply with investigatorsí findings "without hesitation" and said it is already working to make improvements in the Heart Institute. Going forward, the hospital should be forthright and specific about those changes, how they will ensure superior care for young patients and how they will keep their parents fully informed.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18