What Is Going On At Oregon State Hospital?

Last year a mentally ill patient in a medium-security ward at Oregon State Hospital lay dead in his hospital bed for several hours before anyone noticed. As a result, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a warning letter to the state indicating Oregon better shape up or risk getting sued by the DOJ. In addition, the State Office of Investigations and Training found the hospital was negligent in its care of the patient, Moises Perez.

This week the hospital’s human resources department formally reprimanded five employees involved in the case. But reading the details of these reprimands just leads to more questions. Three of those given letters of reprimand are nurses. Two were found negligent in making sure staff followed protocol and in supporting their staff.

One nurse was reprimanded because he failed to provide the required monthly written reports on the patient for nearly five months. The remaining two to receive reprimands are aides. One aide was cited for doing nothing when the patient failed to appear for his afternoon medications. The aide was supposed to alert a nurse and to record the fact that the patient didn’t take his medications.

He indicated that he was busy preparing for the evening meal and thus was unable to check on the patient. The other aide failed to complete required weekly paperwork on the patient’s status. He asserts that with the number of patients under his care, he could not always adequately monitor each patient and had to make decisions based on urgency and patient needs.

I don’t really know what is going on at Oregon State Hospital. Either the hospital has a lot of incompetent employees, or the conditions are such that the employees are overworked and simply unable to manage their jobs efficiently. Perhaps it’s a combination of both. Whatever the case may be, it seems the patients are the ones who are suffering the most and who have the least power to do much about it. I hope conditions improve at the hospital for everyone’s sake.