Penn State Hershey Medical Center cited for delayed responses in patient deaths

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Penn State Hershey Medical Center

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa.– The Pennsylvania Department of Health has cited Penn State Hershey Medical Center for delayed responses and care for three of their patients, two of whom died.

In August, Penn State Hershey Medical Center was cited after an investigation into the death of a 6-year-old boy. That child hadn’t had his temperature checked during a 10-hour period, and was declared dead later that day.

Now, three additional incidents have been brought into question as well.

The first incident revolves around a child who came into the center with a high heart rate, fever and severe congestion in early June. Symptoms were noted at 12:30 p.m. and were still present 45 minutes.

Caregivers then ordered a chest x-ray and chose to continue to monitor the child, according to the investigation report. A Pediatric Rapid Response Team was called at 3:30 p.m. that day, but a review of the incident shows that the team should have been called much earlier. That child was declared brain dead several days later.

Another noted case in June involved a patient in June who was suffering the symptoms of stroke, including the patient “not making sense” and struggling to follow commands.

The health department said that the medical center failed to follow procedures for declaring and treating a stroke for patients with the related symptoms.

A final incident involving the death of a patient took place in July. That patient had been brought into the emergency department after falling and bleeding in the brain. At 5:47 a.m., an order was placed for the patient to receive a drug meant to control bleeding. However, that patient didn’t receive the drug until 8:36 a.m. and eventually died due to the bleeding, according to the report.

The medical center’s policy is that medication that is ordered is to be given to patients within 30 minutes.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center shared the following with FOX43:

The inspection report in question refers to three separate patient cases:

  • An adult patient who was evaluated in the Emergency Department for uncertain neurologic symptoms. The DOH cited our hospital because a difference of clinical opinion among staff members resulted in him not being eligible for a medication that may have minimized symptoms that resulted from what was later confirmed to be a stroke.
  • An adult patient seen in the Emergency Department after a fall that occurred offsite and resulted in a subdural hematoma—a bleed in the brain. The DOH cited our hospital because an order placed for a medication to help stop the bleed was delayed in reaching the patient beyond the 30-minute window in which it was supposed to be given.
  • The DOH cited our hospital because a pediatric patient with lifelong medical deficiencies who was being treated for a serious infection did not receive a timely upgrade in care to the intensive care unit as required by our protocols.

These three cases were reported in a timely manner by our clinical staff and subsequently reported as required to state agencies. They resulted in our institution receiving five citations from DOH. We have implemented plans of correction to address the concerns raised by DOH related to the above cases.

Instances such as this are inconsistent with the high-quality care our community has come to expect from us—and which we expect from ourselves. We deeply regret when we fall short of those expectations.

We realize the importance of our ongoing efforts to evaluate and improve our patient care practices; to ensure staff have the knowledge they need to consistently meet the highest standards of care; and to reinforce expectations for employees to elevate concerns they may have, particularly where patient care is involved.

You can read the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s full report below:

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