Monday, March 13, 2006

"UCI, Heal Thyself"

A Los Angeles Times editorial (entitled, "UCI, Heal Thyself"), called for the ouster of the Dean of the University of California - Irvine medical school in response to the ongoing difficulties at the institution. (We have posted frequently about UCI, most recently here.)

I will just quote from the editorial:
UC IRVINE SHOULD BE commended for moving quickly to investigate the many patient-care problems at its scandal-plagued medical center — and for getting rid of one of those responsible, Dr. Ralph Cygan, the former chief executive. But now the university must follow up with stronger measures to assure patients and taxpayers that this wayward hospital can still be saved. And the first essential step on the road to recovery is firing the medical school dean, Dr. Thomas C. Cesario.

Cesario has been in charge of the medical school during more than a decade of scandals at UCI Medical Center: the theft of patients' eggs and embryos, the illegal billing of patients for experimental drugs, the improper sale of cadavers, the liver transplant program that recruited new patients while turning down livers because it didn't have a doctor to transplant them. Need we go on?

The first few embarrassments might have been blamed on some rogue doctors, but when there is trouble in department after department, year after year, there's a systemic problem. Regardless of whether Cesario helped create this atmosphere or simply was too inept a manager to recognize and change it, he should no longer be in charge.

UCI Medical Center's managers were so busy thinking about how to make their teaching hospital the next UCLA or Stanford, they overlooked basic patient care. They were so intent on keeping up a good reputation, they ignored or punished whistle-blowers.
There seems to be growing public recognition of the problems of mismanagement of large health care organizations, at least at the local level.

It is still discouraging that this story has not receive much notice in the media outside of California (and as far as I can tell has received no notice in medical, health care, and health policy journals).

No comments: