(NaturalNews) An obsession with financial and administrative concerns over the welfare of patients led to such shoddy care at a U.K. hospital that hundreds of patients died unnecessarily.
"This is a story of appalling standards of care and chaotic systems for looking after patients," said Sir Ian Kennedy, who chaired a Healthcare Commission investigation into the hospital, the Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation trust. "Those are words I have not previously used in any report. There were inadequacies at almost every stage in the care of emergency patients. There is no doubt that patients will have suffered and some of them will have died as a result."
According to the investigation, 400 more patients died in the accident and emergency (A&E) section of the hospital between March 2005 and March 2008 than expected for hospitals with similar case mixes. The report summed up the hospital's problems as "low staffing levels, inadequate nursing, lack of equipment, lack of leadership, poor training and ineffective systems for identifying when things went wrong."
Investigators concluded that A&E receptionists were not properly qualified to assess patients' needs; nurses were insufficiently trained in proper use of vital signs monitors; patients failed to get the correct medication; call buttons went unanswered; and delays in operations were common.
In many cases, patients unable to get to the toilet were left for hours in wet bed sheets. Patients were so neglected that 45 percent of patients in one ward developed bed sores. Patients waiting for care were dumped into unstaffed units so that the hospital could claim that no one had waited more than four hours in A&E. In one instance, a patient covered in blood from an open elbow fracture was made to wait more than four hours for pain medication or treatment.
The report attributed the poor care to the hospital's obsession with meeting government targets to achieve "foundation trust" status, thereby gaining more autonomy. An analysis of trust board meetings found them to be "dominated by finance, targets and achieving foundation trust status."