State probe found Tucson emergency room ignored some patients

May 24, 2015, 6:13 PM | Updated: 6:13 pm

TUCSON, Ariz. — There were several instances this past year in which a
Tucson emergency room kept patients, including an infant, waiting for hours,
according to a recent state probe.

A state investigation of Northwest Medical Center culminated last month in the
hospital agreeing to pay $1,750 in civil penalties. According to the report, the
hospital staff created a health and safety risk by leaving some patients in a
triage area for hours. Furthermore, some patients were at risk because they gave
up and left before being examined by a doctor.

The report highlighted one case where a baby with chicken pox was kept waiting
for at least three hours, the Arizona Daily Star reported. A nurse should have isolated the infant from the public and applied
respiratory precautions, the report said.

Another infant with a high fever,
cough and pain didn’t get an initial assessment after waiting for nearly two

Northwest hospital officials said Friday its ER aims to get to every patient in
30 minutes or less. But that policy wasn’t in effect at the time of the
investigation. In a statement, officials also made a case for already showing
improvement since state investigators visited the facility in January.

“Our April ‘door-to-provider’ average was 22 minutes and consistent timeliness
has allowed us to reinstate our 30-minutes-or-less ER pledge,” the statement

Federal data shows the average time patients waited before seeing a health-care
professional at Northwest Medical Center was 39 minutes between July 2013 and
July of last year. That turned out to be somewhat shorter than a few other
Tucson hospitals.

State investigators showed up at Northwest on Jan. 14 after a complaint was
filed. The investigative team looked at 27 cases. According to their findings,
the staff put patients at risk in 16 of them.


Information from: Arizona Daily Star,

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State probe found Tucson emergency room ignored some patients