[July 11, 2017] PALO ALTO, Calif. – Healthcare workers released a report showing that patient infections at Stanford University Medical Center are a continuing problem. They say the problem is threatening patient care and is largely caused by understaffing, lack of training, and the failure of hospital executives to listen to workers’ concerns.
“Patients and workers are affected even though we’ve repeatedly told management about our safety concerns and the fact we haven’t been trained how to protect our patients or ourselves,” said Arun Kumar, a housekeeper at Stanford University Medical Center. “The hospital needs to get its priorities in line so patients and workers aren’t afraid of walking in and getting infected. Patient safety should be the first priority for any hospital, but in this case Stanford University Medical Center is not practicing this.”
Stanford University Medical Center scored far worse than the national benchmark for patients acquiring Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), a highly contagious infection that causes severe diarrhea and is fatal in 6.5 percent of patients, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Over a three-year period ending June 30, 2016, the hospital reported 524 C. diff. infections, or an average of 174 patients a year who acquired the infection after admission. Its infection figures were worse than the seven other teaching hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013 and 2014, and as a result the federal government has reduced its Medicare payments to the hospital two years in a row.
Workers say that too often they are not notified when a patient is in “isolation” because of a highly contagious infection, and unwittingly walk into patient rooms without proper protection. Housekeeping personnel indicate that they are expected to clean rooms in just 20 minutes, including those where a patient with an infection had been staying, which is not enough time to properly sanitize the room and prevent the spread of infections.
More than 1,800 Stanford University Medical Center employees are members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).