By: Megan Gibson
The full answer to this question remains a mystery. What we know is that
as of August 7, 2017 the DC Department of Health (DOH) restricted the
United Medical Center's (UMC) license to treat obstetric patients.
UMC is the only full-service hospital in SE DC, and this closure is a
huge blow the community.
The answer to our question seems to be that there were some large-scale,
systemic violations of the proper standard of care in treating patients
and their newborns. The
Washington Post obtained a letter that gives some rather egregious examples of such violations, including:
- Hospital staff members not taking the proper steps to prevent the transmission
of HIV from a mother to a newborn
- Hospital staff failing to properly monitor or treat a woman with trouble
breathing and a history of fatal blood-pressure problem
- Staff failures to follow basic time monitoring protocol of a newborn infant
As a result of these failures, the hospital's obstetrics license has
been restricted through November 7th of 2017. Since the closure of the
obstetrics ward, officials in the Mayor's administration, as well
as the Director of the DC DOH, have refused to release any additional
information or respond to inquiries from the press and DC council members.
Hospital officials also remain tight-lipped on what exactly prompted the closure.
If the hospital allowed systemic deficiencies and poor practices to fester,
and permitted patients to be exposed to unnecessary risks and complications,
then the public has a right to know. People generally trust their hospitals,
and the doctors and medical personnel that are in them. However, this
case exemplifies how deviations from a national standard of care for treatment
of patients can have dire consequences, especially if left unaddressed.
If hospital officials and medical personnel did not properly address ongoing
deficiencies in the care of their patients, they should be held accountable,
especially to those whom they have harmed.