23 June 2006

Security Issues at Children's: I Hate To Say "I Told You So"

It's this simple. Note what happened in January 2006:

Apparently disturbed that a hard copy of this blog was found lying around somewhere in the Hospital, they wasted no time in dispatching Mr. Jim Sawyer, Director of Security and Transportation, to find me and ask for “2 minutes of my time”.

Point: The Hospital sent the top security executive to my daughter's room at 7am to discuss this blog.

And then note what happened today, according to the Seattle P-I:

Her son, Riley Rogers, is suffering from an illness and needs state-ordered emergency medical care. Authorities believe she took him from Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle. Dr. Richard Molteni, medical direct (SIC) at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, said that in light of the custody battle over Riley, hospital staff watched the baby's room more closely than usual. Staff checked on Riley at 4:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday. Hospital officials believe Carlsen carried Riley out of the hospital around 6 a.m. Thursday in a small bag after telling staff she was going for coffee.

Point: Apparently the Director of Security, who should have been aware of this imminent security problem, was less attentive to this critical issue than he was the appearance of a printout of this blog.

Parents, how many more incidents like this will it take until we collectively require a top management change at our children's hospital? Where is the CEO, Tom Hansen, in this crisis - out fundraising for his research? Hopefully he is researching security methods to prevent children from being abducted from this hospital and reallocating his Security Director's time from concerns about blogs to concerns about kidnapping.

17 April 2006

Mr. Moore, meet Hunter. Hunter, Mr. Moore.

Easter, it is a season of miracles. An email comes, out of nowhere:

"We have been approached by a woman who is working with Michael Moore on his upcoming documentary concerning our health care system...And we think your story will be so compelling that the subject will at least be mentioned in this film...The people working on the film are looking for people who are still dealing with the health care system and want to follow you through some of the things you are dealing with, as they are happening."

Go, Hunter.

18 March 2006


Sicko is the title of Michael Moore's next movie. You remember Michael Moore - his many films include "Roger & Me" in 1989 about General Motors, "Bowling for Columbine" which won an Oscar in 2003, and then "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004 about the Bush administration's reaction to 9/11.

He posted a letter on his website last month headlined "Send me your health-care horror stories." A few excerpts:

"How would you like to be in my next movie? I know you've probably heard I'm making a documentary about the health care industry..."

"Ok, here's your chance. As you can imagine, we've got the goods on these bastards. All we need now is to put a few of you in the movie and let the world see what the greatest country ever in the history of the universe does to its own people, simply because they have the misfortune of getting sick. Because getting sick, unless you are rich, is a crime – a crime for which you must pay, sometimes with your own life. "

"I am looking for a few heroes with a conscience. I know you are out there."

You can send your story to him at michael@michaelmoore.com . It will be interesting to see which stories he selects for his movie. Any hospital CEO who's seen "Roger & Me" will be hoping it's not any of his patients in the movie.

17 March 2006

Do Blogs Make a Difference?

"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. " Thomas Paine

A lot of people probably think this blog is nothing more than a father venting about the series of errors committed regarding his child's healthcare. But be aware that this blog led to Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, developing interest in Hunter's case. That, in turn, led to Rep. Tom Campbell requesting that I testify before the State Senate Committee. That led to coverage by The Olympian newspaper. And all of those things are now a permanent part of the collective knowledge online, available 24 hours a day, worldwide.

Similarly, this week I wrote in my other blog an item about executive pay, which was seen by Bloomberg, whose reporter wrote an article on a completely different executive pay story, which was then picked up by the Los Angeles Times and dozens of other national publications and read by millions of people this week. Those comments are now a permanent part of the collective knowledge online, available 24 hours a day, worldwide.

Traditional media, politicians, and executives are realizing that power is returning to the citizens, just like the Founding Fathers intended. Those sitting in cozy offices thinking that their connections, political contributions, lobbying activities and wealthy fundraising friends are going to insulate them from these annoying little blogs - well, they're in for a very big surprise.

She's Baa-aack

I forgot to mention that Hunter was back in Seattle Children's Hospital this week as an inpatient - twice. She still has not recovered from all of the damage suffered from the series of infections she had from her last visit there. She had surgery today to implant a feeding tube as she is still unable to eat, still vomits almost hourly, and has gained no weight. She went in Monday but couldn't be scheduled for surgery until Friday, so came home Wednesday and was readmitted Friday morning.

You can imagine our apprehension as the last time she was in for a 3-day stay she became the 57-day infection case. I think everyone concerned is hoping that doesn't happen again but my wife is still onsite 24/7 to make sure people wash their hands, use Purell, don't re-use things dropped on the floor, administer the correct dose of the correct medications on time - you know, all those things that we parents are required to do as a part of our job description because some employees haven't read theirs nor have their supervisors.

The Fight Continues

As you probably know, the infection reporting bill did not make it out of the Legislature this year. We'll try again next year. No doubt the hospital industry will continue spending money on lobbying the legislature to vote down a requirement to report their infection rate. It seems to me that money could be spent on improving infection control in the hospital and then they wouldn't be concerned about reporting their infection rate. I wonder how hospitals justify diverting money to special interest lobbyists when that money should be spent on the children? I thought the concept was to "eliminate disease in children" not "eliminate evidence of disease hospitals cause in children." Maybe I misinterpreted.

They're clever about it too - hospitals wouldn't want a paper trail from hospital to lobbyist, so their money goes to industry associations that then hire the lobbyists. Even then, numerous hospitals did have staff members present to testify in Olympia against the infection reporting bill. Gee, if they are so cost-pressured and short-staffed, how can they afford to employ a person who hangs out all day at the Capitol? I'd like to know how the children benefitted from that.

You can see Hunter's personal testimonial at:


We are fortunate to have so many people helping her fight for her rights until she can speak up for herself.

21 February 2006

Hunter in the Headlines

Today's front page of The Olympian (at least the online front page) features a story about the infection control bill and our testimony yesterday.

Hunter's name is not actually mentioned, referring only to my 15-month-old daughter. I suspect there is a rule or policy against citing a minor's name.

And Children's Hospital is not actually mentioned, referring only to "a Seattle hospital." I suspect there is hesitancy among wealthy newspaper owners to cite by name hospitals with wealthy donors based on a single person's public testimony to a Senate Committee. Who knows?

I promised that Hunter's ordeal at Children's Hospital would become front page news, and it has. This is only the beginning. Little feats of little feet.

20 February 2006

How Lucky Can You Get - A Major Media Day and an Apology

Wow! What are the odds that the day Hunter is invited to testify before the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee is the same day that Governor Gregoire shows up to announce the deal reached on medical malpractice reform. It was pretty cool to sit in the same spot she had a few hours earlier and talk to the same group of Senators. A lot of the media stayed around and were still there for our testimony which is going to result in some coverage of Hunter's story. Hunter didn't spit-up on my shirt all day and she got to meet several of the Senators afterwards.
You can hear my testimony at http://www.tvw.org/MediaPlayer/Archived/WME.cfm?EVNum=2006020206&TYPE=A beginning at 3:34:00.

But my favorite part of the day was when Jeanette Harris - representing the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology - apologized to our family during her testimony to the Senate on behalf of other hospitals in the State of Washington for the response we received from the Children's Hospital administrator, Ruth. Ruth had said that if we didn't like the problems that Children's Hospital had with infection control we should move to another part of the country and use a different Children's hospital. Jeanette indicated she thought Ruth's response was "criminal." Apparently others agree that this arrogance has no place in the healthcare system of the State of Washington (hopefully not in any other part of the country either).

Then, when we got back home, I had an email from a Children's Hospital parent who read this blog and was "shocked" to hear what we had gone through. I can tell you that after today, there are a lot of people across our State who share that shock - legislators, lobbyists, journalists, and citizens.

It was a good day because we again took a horrorific experience and used it to help improve healthcare for all. One small step for Hunter, one giant leap...well maybe just one small step for healthcare quality. But the giants are learning that even little tiny feet can trip them up.

17 February 2006

Hunter Gets an Audience with the Politicians

Good News! I have been invited to testify before the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee next Monday to tell Hunter's story as a reason that hospitals must be held accountable for infection control. Disclosure is a key solution to such accountability.

Rep. Tom Campbell's bill (HB 1015) will require reporting of hospital-acquired infections in Washington. Despite opposition from the powerful hospital lobby, Rep. Campbell was able to get the support he needed to pass the Washington House of Representatives. Now the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee will hold a public hearing next Monday, February 20, at 3:30 PM. It is crucial that this bill get the support of this committee and some members of the committee may be hostile to this important legislation.

I will be there to tell Hunter's story, and the story of Children's Hospital, to emphasize the destructive impact of hospital-acquired infections on patients and their families. I would like to take Hunter along but will probably just bring a photo of her scarred head resulting from all of the additional brain surgeries she required due to the infections. That picture is worth at least a thousand words.