Saturday, June 7, 2008

federal appeals court in Denver has reinstated a lawsuit

Nurses demand increase in staffing at Centerpoint
The Kansas City Star

Nurses at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence said Thursday that the hospital needs to beef up staffing to ensure patient safety.

Nurses United for Improved Patient Care, a union that represents Centerpoint nurses, said the nurses made their case in a petition to the hospital, which is part of HCA Midwest Health System.

Uriah Magill, an intensive care nurse at Centerpoint, said care suffers when he and his colleagues are forced to look after too many patients at once.

“As the care provider, it is very frustrating and concerning when the patient needs care and we can’t provide that to them because we are overworked and overloaded,” Magill said.

The union noted that Centerpoint scored worst among area hospitals in key patient ratings reported recently by the federal government.

HCA Midwest spokeswoman Sara Smith said Centerpoint is in contract negotiations with Nurses United.

“Unions often use press releases of this nature in an attempt to use leverage in bargaining. Centerpoint is dedicated to quality patient care, and staffing levels are determined based on the needs of our patients on a daily basis,” she said.

Smith acknowledged that Centerpoint needs more nurses than the 300-plus who are currently on staff. She said the hospital is successfully recruiting new nurses amid a nationwide nursing shortage.

HCA Midwest, which is based in Kansas City, is part of Nashville-based HCA Inc.

In a separate matter, a federal appeals court in Denver has reinstated a lawsuit claiming that Wesley Medical Center in Wichita and other HCA hospitals had endangered patients through inadequate medical and nurse staffing.

The case involved patient Joseph Spires, who died at Wesley in 2004. The plaintiffs said HCA had developed a computer software program that led to inadequate staffing at Wesley and other HCA hospitals.

A federal court in Wichita earlier had dismissed the would-be class action lawsuit.

“This case is without merit and is not about patient care,” HCA spokesman Ed Fishbough said Thursday.

To reach Julius A. Karash, call 816-234-4918 or send e-mail to

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