A recent exposé on cases against Howard University Hospital by the Washington Post reveals a hospital in crisis-mode on almost every front. The Post reviewed over 675 wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits filed against local hospitals since 2006, and among all of the hospitals Howard had the highest rate of death lawsuits per bed. Since 2007, Howard University Hospital (HUH) has paid out at least $27 million in wrongful death or malpractice settlements. Given that this number consists of just 22 of the 82 cases filed against the hospital and that most of the settlements were not made public, the total amount of settlement pay-outs more than likely is significantly more.
The hospital has further been cited over the years numerous times for violation of local and federal laws, as well as violations of its own internal policies. The hospital has also been experiencing dramatic financial woes, operating at a $58 million loss in 2014, $19 million loss in 2015, and for the first time in June of 2016 it announced a surplus of $4.3 million, but only after a reduction in the hospital’s employees by 110 people
A former medical director of DC Fire and EMS noted that the hospital has a history of “bad care and long waits in the emergency room.” David Rosenbaum is one example of such negligent treatment. He was mugged in his neighborhood during a walk, and he was left on a gurney in a hallway at HUH for hours without being examined by a physician. Without anyone taking the time to examine him or recognize the seriousness of his condition, he died.
The Washington Post cites to several other sad tales of people whose lives or limbs could have been saved, but due to the collective negligence of HUH’s system, tragically died or had to have limbs cut off. People expect that when they go to a hospital that they will be well taken care of. Many patients going to Howard University Hospital certainly believed so, unfortunately finding just the opposite to be true.
When and how HUH will improve its systems and management remains a central question in the minds of DC area residents, and the answer grows increasingly urgent and elusive. While it is difficult to compare quality of care among hospitals due to a lack of mandatory reporting requirements, it remains clear that Howard University Hospital has a long way to go with its staff, systems, and overall management to improve its quality of healthcare. Whatever they decide to do, they should do it soon. We need to be able to trust our hospitals with our loved ones’ lives, and with our own.
Please click here to read the Washington Post’s full article.