Compromised accreditation?

Is the hospital accreditation process compromised by coercion?

In Nova Scotia our health authorities traditionally cherry-pick the results to build a story that everything is fine and our system is maintaining national standards. But these same health executives ignore results that show half (between 48 to 52 percent) of their staff don’t trust, believe or respect them.

I raise the question because I’ve been told that this week Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville is undergoing the accreditation process. In prep for this VRH circulated the accreditation questionnaires and attached management-approved answers. That doesn’t seem in the spirit of fact-based research.

But VRH’s action isn’t the first time I’ve had people in the health care system question the accreditation process. Five years ago a hospital worker told me that their authority would hire extra staff for the accreditation period, call a Code Purple as a way to empty the ER for a day and send patients to another hospital if they were overcrowded.  I was also told of a manager at the Pictou hospital who stood over her staff as they filled out their accreditation questionnaires. My source said this manager claimed it was to prevent errors or confusion. But even this type of passive-aggressive management failed to stop staff from trashing the place. When the health authority published the accreditation results national averages were stripped out so people couldn’t see how poorly they performed against other hospitals.

A former accreditation surveyor says, “ It is difficult, almost impossible, to get objective information about what is happening. Surveyors rarely got to speak with unselected patients or staff except for a few (surveyors) who get off of the beaten track.”

Silencing comment is not unlike the experience provided to a health minister when they visit a hospital. Executives who work off-site are on-the-floor to micromanage every minute of the minister’s time so that he/she never comes in to contact with anyone who hasn’t been prepped on the proper platitudes to present to the politician.

It’s ironic that this arises in the week when women everywhere are posting #metoo on social media to show the scale of sexual harassment in the workplace. That’s wrong. Perhaps the next campaign will be about management coercion and improper pressure. That’s another type of harassment. In the meantime, we are left to wonder about the accuracy of the hospital accreditation process.

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7 Responses to Compromised accreditation?

  1. Bernie Swain says:

    Very fair comments. One way around the issue is, instead of just taking issues to the hospital or the politicians, people should also proactively contact the accreditation authorities with comments. It is not too difficult to obtain contact details. As your description about the lengths the hospitals go to to avoid negative comments demonstrates, the leverage is considerable.

    • Gordon Goodwin says:

      PTSD Memramcook/Saint-Jos​eph

      On the wonderful Saturday morning in Amherst NS, I have just finished reading your prognosis of locating the PTSD centre in a resurrected Saint Joseph. A wonderful idea, full of common sense, fully constructed and lends itself to resourceful upgrades. Perfect sense.

      That, Mr. Lynch just might be the problem.

      Halifax does not support “location, location, location” in this respect. One can understand Dr. Whalen’s wishes for Halifax. It is the centre of medical support for NS, and we all welcome that respect. However PTSD flourishes in the serenity of solitude for restful silence.
      Those of us in the hinterlands of Nova Scotia know that Nova Scotia ends at Truro. To be sure Premier’s Gallant and Premier McLaughlin will agree.
      You are to be encouraged to keep knocking on the door in this respect. Persistence gathers support Mr. Lynch, with the Government of Nova Scotia. I will endeavour to include in my articles on the museum file in the Amherst News, support for your effort. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.

      “The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch.”

      With kindest regards,

      Gordon Goodwin,
      Amherst N.S.

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and encouragement.

        Those who are in charge of the system may not believe this or any other idea is viable, in which case they should be able to explain in clear, simple terms why. Officially, health care embraces fresh ideas. In reality, they don’t implement anything they didn’t think of.

        Change can happen IF people expect it, demand and keep asking for it. Otherwise there is no impetus for the health executives to do more or better. Nowhere in their job descriptions are they held accountable for failing to improve patient health outcomes. That has to change.

  2. qawesrdtfyguh says:

    This is not necessary for this topic, but some friends from the medical profession informed me that the beautiful story recently posted by NSHA regarding research on stroke treatment displayed the picture of a radiologist, all scrubed up and holding a catheter in his hands. The story is wonderful, except that this radiologist is likely going to relocate himself and his family, because his wife who happens to be a physician does not fit in the NSHA grid. This reminds me of the orthopedist at the VRH who was a specialist of “diabetic foot” issues and was not given OR time. She moved away with her husband, also a physician…

    • I believe the husband of the orthopaedic surgeon that VRH didn’t have funds to pay was either a radiologist or anesthesiologist.

      • qawesrdtfyguh says:

        You are correct, I think the VRH ortho surgeon’s husband was a radiologist. The QEII radiologist is a neuroradiologist, one of the most dedicated to research and his wife is just finishing a neuropathology fellowship but there is no job for her…

      • Has there been a reason given for no position for the surgeon?

        We need more physicians, more surgeons, more everyone. What few focus on is retention of the medical professionals who are here. NSHA treats physicians, specialists and surgeons as if they were workers in a Third World sweat shop with no voice and choice.

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