Monday, August 20, 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.

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Editorial: The Catholic Churchís proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Editorial: The Catholic Churchís proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Forceful words are coming from the popeís pen as well as pulpits around Tampa Bay: The sexual abuse of minors, which proliferated for decades within the Roman Catholic Church, were not merely sins but crimes whose repercussions are still being felt b...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Did Rick Scottís wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Editorial: Did Rick Scottís wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Within weeks of taking office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott made one of the worst decisions of his administration and refused $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Within months of leaving office, the governor...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Local governments across the land can find plenty of reasons to go after the drug industry over the crisis of opioid addiction.Hillsborough County can find more reasons than most.ē In 2016, the county led the state with 579 babies born addicted to dr...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

The environmental crisis in South Florida has fast become a political crisis. Politicians in both parties are busy blaming one another for the waves of toxic algae blooms spreading out from Lake Okeechobee and beyond, fouling both coasts and damaging...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/20/18
Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18

Bumping into GOP cowardice on guns

One small island of sanity in the generally insane ocean of American gun culture is the near-complete federal ban on civilian possession of fully automatic weapons ó machine guns.The nation got a bitter taste last year of what weíd be facing on a reg...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

The revelation that three people in Pinellas County have contracted the measles virus should be a wake-up call to everyone to get vaccinated if they havenít been ó and to implore parents to immunize their kids. Contagious diseases such as measles can...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Vote ó or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

Editorial: Vote ó or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didnít bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump ó 27.6 percent ó or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last monthís deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18