Almost two years ago, Mark De Rond, an ethnographer at Cambridge University in England, sent a manuscript to the Culture and Politics of Health Care Work series at Cornell University Press. As co-editor of the series, I reviewed the manuscript — Doctors at War — which has just been published . It was done in the form of a of field notes describing De Rond’s months embedding with surgeons in a field hospital in Afghanistan during what is euphemistically dubbed – in the US at least – Operation Enduring Freedom. In other words the US war in Afghanistan, which is being waged not only by the US military but also by allies from other countries like the British, who, with the Americans ran Camp Bastion. The British Ministry of Defense (MOD) had asked De Rond to go to Afghanistan to study teamwork among British and American surgeons in the field hospital at Camp Bastion. As he describes it in the book, Camp Bastion was “the most successful trauma unit anywhere in the world.”
From the moment I began reading, I knew how important this book was and the … Continue reading
I was reminded of the famous quote by Reverend Martin Niemoller when I read this front page story in The New York Times about Trump voters, who are suddenly worried because they are losing government benefits they apparently didn’t think Trump would touch.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
From Beyond Chron
by Suzanne Gordon on March 9, 2017
VA Hospital in Washington DC
Ever since a physician at the Phoenix VA Health Care System reported that Veterans Health Administration (VHA) administrators had been gaming data on wait times for patient appointments, VA whistleblowers have been embraced on Capitol Hill. There may be disagreement in Washington about the future of the VHA, but there is bi-partisan agreement that VHA employees should be supported and rewarded when they act to protect their patients.
Unfortunately, not enough legislators and veterans advocates understand that acting to create real patient safety involves far more than being a traditional whistleblower, which, as Webster’s dictionary explains, is “one who reveals something covert or who informs against another.” Or as the Federal Whistleblower Protection Act defines it, involves reporting a “violation of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”
As an extensive literature on patient safety … Continue reading
Just posted this on The American Prospect, please read, like, comment and share.
VA Whistleblowers Beware: Tweeting Under Trump is No Two-Way Street`
March 2, 2017
A GOP bid to muzzle federal workers at the Veterans Health Administration will directly harm patients.
n 2014, when a Veterans Health Administration doctor in Phoenix revealed that some VHA administrators had falsified data on wait times for patient appointments, congressional Republicans applauded his whistleblowing on behalf of veterans’ health care.
Joined by many Democrats and, later, the bipartisan VA Commission on Care, Republicans said they supported a workplace culture that encourages federal employees to report agency problems, and speak up about misconduct by management.
Now, however, President Trump and his GOP allies are singing a different tune. If their current efforts to muzzle employees who may disagree with VHA policies or practices succeed, both the quality of VHA care and the safety of its patients will suffer. That’s because concerned caregivers will be afraid to criticize deficiencies when they spot them. Read More
As I write in this new blog in The American Prospect, Trump’s hiring freeze is hurting the VHA in spite of exemptions.
Hiring Freeze Spares Some at VA, But Shortages Still Loom
January 31, 2017
The Veterans Health Administration faces a staffing crisis, despite exemptions to President Trump’s recent federal hiring freeze. A public outcry by veterans’ service organizations and lawmakers on Capitol Hill has spared certain core health-care personnel at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) from the worst of President Trump’s blanket hiring freeze.
But veterans who rely on the VA for benefits, pensions, compensation, and health care are still in big trouble. Chronic staff shortages and underfunding have been at the heart of a VA crisis centered on long wait times for care. Though doctors, nurses, and certain other essential health-care professionals and support staff have been exempted from the freeze, that still leaves the VA with a multitude of vacancies that will hamper its ability to deliver high-quality care.
To be sure, the recent exemptions have led some who are worried about the VA’s future to breathe a sigh of relief. When Trump announced … Continue reading