Cash-Strapped Brooklyn Hospital Faces “Alarming” Number Of Malpractice Claims

Cash-strapped Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center of Brooklyn, New York, is facing what has been described as an “alarming” number of medical malpractice claims. Issues at Brookdale have long been making headlines.

The hospital faces over 100 lawsuits filed by patients who claim that they—in some cases, their deceased family members—were injured and not healed at the beleaguered facility, said The NY Daily News, citing Brooklyn Supreme Court records. Some dozen cases involve one patient death over alleged malpractice or negligence, one traumatic brain injury, and two severe pressure ulcers that became so infected, the patients died, noted The Daily News.

“The number of suits against Brookdale is alarming,” said state Assemblyman Nick Perry (Democrat-East Flatbush), adding that the lawsuits are “a very strong indication that something is definitely wrong with how the hospital is run.” State Assemblyman Karim Camara (Democrat-East Flatbush) described the legal actions as “further evidence there needs to be a change at the highest levels of management.”

Other accusations include a diabetic whose puncture wound become so infected he lost his toes to amputation; one patient whose medical alert bracelet indicated she was allergic to penicillin, but was given the drug anyway; and a baby’s whose permanent brain and nervous system injuries at birth are being blamed on the physician involved, said The Daily News.

“It sounds like there’s an epidemic of medical malpractice at this hospital,” said Joanne Doroshow, executive director at the Center for Justice and Democracy, wrote The Daily News. Doroshow called the sheer number of lawsuits “egregious,” adding that, “When a hospital is so unsafe, it costs the hospital a tremendous amount of money…. There are proven ways to clean up your act, patient safety improvements that are well known. It is pure negligence not to do them.”

In 2010, Brookdale had $42 million in operating losses, according to a report by the state panel. Last year, former CEO David Rosen was convicted for conspiracy to bribe three Brooklyn and Queens lawmakers, according to The Daily News.

Also last year, a Wall Street Journal report said health authorities were concerned at the increasing signs at Brookdale, including disorder and patient danger, major financial problems, and allegations of political corruption. Twice last year, Brookdale was threatened with expulsion from public health insurance programs after it failed a number of government safety inspections.

Issues included mishandling blood specimens and poor management of medical interns at the hospital where federal regulators said they identified more serious complaints than at any other hospital in the state, said The Journal. One baby boy died at the hospital over what the New York City medical examiner’s office said was a medication error. The baby’s death prompted a state and a national health care accrediting group probe.

Another recent inspection revealed that three-quarters of the operating rooms’ air pressure was not appropriately adjusted to prevent airborne infections, over two dozen smoke detectors had not been tested and some were inoperable, discharge planning processes were lacking, and “identification errors” involving blood specimens were found, said The Journal.

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