WTF Hospital Administrators? Now Is NOT The Time To Silence Doctors & Nurses From Commenting On COVID-19 Shortages

from the we-need-them-shouting-from-the-rooftops dept

What is it with people who should know better immediately resorting to censorship and gag orders in the face of important information sharing? With more and more reports directly from doctors and nurses about shortages of necessary protective supplies in the midst of a pandemic, there are also disturbing reports of hospital administrators trying to silence them, and threatening retaliation:

A hospitalist in Indiana took to social media  to plead for donations of N95 masks, hoping to help local hospitals prepare for the pandemic to reach them. Shortly afterward, administrators from his hospital contacted the online forum’s moderator and the posts were removed, he told MDedge News. Administrators also warned him not post about personal protective equipment (PPE) because it made the hospital appear incompetent, and continued to monitor his social media posts. “I was told, ‘We can handle this, we don?t need the public?s help,'” the physician said. “I was hurt and upset. I was trying to help protect my peers.”

Clinicians across the country are being told not to speak to the media, and not to post on social media about their experiences. “There?s definitely a big fear among physicians, particularly employed physicians, in terms of what the consequences may be for telling their stories,? said one physician advocate.

Indeed, in at least one case an ER doctor was fired for pleading on social media for more safety equipment. That’s right, in the middle of a massive pandemic, in which we need as many health professionals working as possible, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Washington was fired for telling the truth and trying to get assistance:

Ming Lin, who has worked at the hospital for 17 years and became a local cause celebre for his pleas for more safety equipment and more urgent measures to protect staff, was informed of his termination as he was preparing for a shift at the hospital Friday afternoon, he said.

?I got a message that said, ?Your shift has been covered,?? Lin told The Seattle Times. He phoned his supervisor and was told, ?You?ve been terminated.? Lin said he was told he would be contacted by human resources staff from his employer, TeamHealth, a national firm that contracts with PeaceHealth?s emergency department.

That seems absolutely insane — and apparently lots of doctors agree. Public Citizen has organized a letter from dozens of organizations asking the American Hospital Association to condemn such gag orders and attempts to silence medical professionals telling the public the actual truth of what’s happening on the ground in the midst of a horrific pandemic.

We were appalled to read recent media reports about hospital administrators across the U.S. muzzling doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals with threats of disciplinary action for speaking out about coronavirus patient caseloads and dwindling hospital supplies needed to care for such patients.

It is critical that the public and local, state, and federal government officials fully comprehend the scope of shortages of personal protective equipment, mechanical ventilators, intensive care unit beds, and other medical supplies so that appropriate steps can be taken to mitigate shortages of these essential medical resources, appropriately and fairly allocate limited resources, and thus protect the safety and welfare of health care workers and patients alike.

Attempts to cover up these shortages by muzzling health care workers who are on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic are reprehensible and reckless and endanger public health. Although such actions may be commonplace in countries with authoritarian regimes, they are not acceptable in the U.S.

What’s incredible to me is that this even needs to be stated in the first place. It’s depressing how often people resort to censorship and stifling of speech in scenarios where it should be obvious to all that sweeping problems under the rug can mean literal death for health professionals on the front lines.

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Comments on “WTF Hospital Administrators? Now Is NOT The Time To Silence Doctors & Nurses From Commenting On COVID-19 Shortages”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

This is no surprise to Anti-Vaxxers.

Doctors see horrible side effects to vaccines and are not allowed to talk about it, write about it, and if you interview them, many are ignorant about reporting it.
If they do, they will get fired.

Poster Child – Andrew Wakefield

Heck, coroners won’t even do adequate autopsies.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Ben (profile) says:

Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

I would normally flag this kind of idiocy, but instead I’ve left it visible (and I hope others will do the same) so that we can all see what kind of thought processes the anti-vaxxers maintain.
Wakefield was found guilty of fraud and extreme professional misconduct. He will never practise any form of medicine or medical research again. And that’s how it should be, given the damage he has done.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

"Wakefield was found guilty of fraud and extreme professional misconduct."

…due to knowingly spreading false information that he hoped would help him profit from an alternative type of vaccine he was selling.

That’s always worth stressing. He wasn’t a true believer who was mistaken about the lies he was saying. He deliberately lied in order to profit.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

"This is no surprise to Anti-Vaxxers."

The alphabet is a surpise to anti-vaxxers

"Doctors see horrible side effects to vaccines and are not allowed to talk about it"

Because, like Wakefield, they’re actually trying to profit from fear rather than spread actual medical information, usually at the detriment of actual patients?

"Poster Child – Andrew Wakefield"

The guy who was allowed to talk as much as he wanted, but then was found to be such a massive fraud causing so many additional preventable disease infections that people were forced to tell him to STFU before he killed again?

Not the best example.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

"Because, like Wakefield, they’re actually trying to profit from fear rather than spread actual medical information, usually at the detriment of actual patients?"

One item people keep forgetting to bring up is that the reason Wakefield began receiving warnings from the medical school of University College London was because he’d started a company whose business models relied exclusively on there being people afraid of vaccines to gain customers.

Your comment about wakefield "profiting from fear" is essentially exactly what he tried to do.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Almost Anonymous says:

Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

You’re an idiot. There are no "horrible side effects to vaccines". A very small percentage of people have had adverse reactions to vaccines, an infinitesimally small number of people have died. That’s it. No mutants, no burning lesions. Please grow up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

Not surprised Andrew "I have magic powers to cure people" Wakefield is your hero.

If Andrew Wakefield died screaming in agony from an easily treatable infection and I had a 50 gallon drum of the treatment, he’d get none of it.

he’s a murderer, a monster and a hateful waste of oxygen.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

"Poster Child – Andrew Wakefield"

Your "poster child" is a proven fraud who was fired after he refused to repeat his study once it became clear he’d deliberately fudged the numbers?

Who then kept himself afloat by, again, deliberately lying about his results being "unpopular" because numerous medical teams the world over had tried to repeat his study and found it produced no correlation?

And failed to mention that one of the main reasons his employer wanted him to stop that particular type of research is outlined in this memo:

"We remain concerned about a possible serious conflict of interest between your academic employment by UCL, and your involvement with Carmel Healthcare Ltd… This concern arose originally because the company’s business plan appears to depend on premature, scientifically unjustified publication of results, which do not conform to the rigorous academic and scientific standards that are generally expected."

In short, Andrew wakefield started a company whose business plan was geared to take advantage of a vaccine scare right before embarking on that famous study of his.

I’m not sure what really irks me the most about you conspiracy nuts – the fact that you rewrite observable reality to fit your desired narrative, or that you are so damn gullible any con man only has to nod twice at what you’re saying for you to start putting what money you have in his pockets.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: No surprise to Anti-Vaxxers

"Andrew Wakefield is a lying, cheating child-murder-enabler."

…who embarked on that course in order to prop up what he felt was the great business idea of selling snake oil and litigation services to sufficiently frightened parents whose children had devloped NPF’s of any kind.

He’s literally the sort of person who feels compelled to endanger children in order to make profit and is now desperately doubling down on his attempts in the apparent hope that people will think he’s a nutjob rather than a monster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Idiots like this need 2 things!

First, to understand why this virus has infected and killed so many people (the Chinese authorities were doing this exact same thing, stifling the release of info about this virus. Now look at how bad it’s got!)

Second, to contract the virus themselves and see the consequences of the shortage of equipment and information!

Fucking ridiculous!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
aerinai (profile) says:

No shortage of ego-filled administrators

These administrators would rather let their own staff and patients die because they are too afraid of what people might say if they gasp ask for help during a crisis.

In times like this it is easy to tell what is important to people; health and safety or managing one’s own image… I think we all know that these administrators made the wrong choice and adversely affected both.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: No shortage of ego-filled administrators

Could it be that these administrators are merely trying to manage risk? Risk of the inevitable lawsuit for when they are exposed as being unprepared, incompetent, or negligent (real or imagined), and those are expensive. After all, it is the administrators purpose to maintain profitability, rather than high medical standards or preparedness. Buying and storing equipment that doesn’t have immediate application would be a detriment to the quarterly bottom line.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually I think it should be two tiered. Normal health care, not for profit, and elective, where they can charge what the market will bear. There are problems with this idea, one is how to deal with malpractice, and when should cosmetic treatments be considered normal (repairing burns for example rather than other types).

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Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: No shortage of ego-filled administrators

Could it be that these administrators are merely trying to manage risk?

It could, but if so they are doing a Streisand of a job. There now free publicity as to what they wanted hidden. And, there is an expert witness available to say that the hospital did not meet the applicable standard of care and tried to cover it up.

The hypothetical jury is going to love that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No shortage of ego-filled administrators

"Risk of the inevitable lawsuit for when they are exposed as being unprepared"

That doesn’t seem too high a risk, since the entire country was unprepared.

What might be a bigger risk: being exposed as unwilling to buy extra protective equipment, because the stuff has become so darn expensive.

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ECA (profile) says:

Corporations

Who here thinks a Hospital is there to Heal you??
Its there to make money, even if there are mistakes.

This is NOT a perfect system. A corp does what a Corp does.
The only mistakes made are those they can cover up.
They ARE NOT perfect, but dont want you to know that.
They dont even want you to compare Doctors, and find the one thats abit MORE knowledgeable..

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Corporations

Because half the country is dumber than the rest and some among them feel the need to express their unfounded ultra-patriotism by way of insulting or belittling others. These people are completely ignorable, having nothing of value to contribute to anything much less a conversation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Corporations

PaulT: "A very American point of view. Thankfully, I live in a civilised country."

AC1: "… and we would appreciate it if you would shelter in place, permanently."

AC2: "why?"

PaulT: "Why? Does hearing how badly your healthcare system treats ordinary people compared to "socialist" countries cause you pain?"

AC2: …… Excuse me?

vilain (profile) says:

Min Lin should sue the contracting agency and the hospital

He’s been reporting issues cutting corners with patient care and staff safety for some time before the COVID-19 outbreak. He looks like a whistle blower to me. This is a private company so any sort of litigation would be a tort and take years to resolve.

Seems like the hospital administrators were using the opportunity to "get rid of the troublemaker". They just chose the height of a pandemic to do it. Seems criminally negligent to me. I wonder if an enterprising DA might indict when all the dust has settled.

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Anonymous Coward says:

“You’ve been terminated.”

Fair enough – but what are they going to do when the only people left to actually treat patients are the fuckheads who’s only competence is in monitoring social media?

Do they think that’ll help them look more competent?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
reticulator (profile) says:

it's not just death for health care workers

This isn’t about workers complaining about management’s ideas of proper working conditions, or compensation, or other normal concerns.

If health care workers are unhealthy — or dead — they can’t care as effectively — or at all — for the general population, and more will die. Triage policy discussions (for example, here) acknowledge that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: it's not just death for health care workers

It’s probably a story unto itself but some health care workers are thinking about quitting their jobs because the hospitals aren’t doing enough to keep them safe.

What happens when the health care workers are no longer around to care for our health?

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Upstream (profile) says:

The first casualty of war . . .

is truth (or the dissemination thereof). In the current war against a tiny but very dangerous virus, both the government at all levels and private entities have been guilty of suppressing the free flow of information, information that could well be vital to winning this war sooner, rather than later, and with fewer casualties, rather than more.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Everything is fine, we fired the person who pointed out the fire

You’d think someone in charge of a hospital would realize that doing the equivalent of cutting off a finger to deal with a paper cut isn’t the smartest move, but I guess ego can make people do stupid things.

If ‘asking for help on social media’ makes the hospital look bad, then how bad does ‘firing a doctor during a pandemic for asking for help’ come across as? Gonna guess it’s just a little bit worse.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bruce C. says:

The bureaucrat trying to avoid blame...

is often the most dangerous of criminals.

They shouldn’t worry about appearing incompetent due to supply shortages. It’s not incompetent to follow industry standards. All for-profit businesses in the US, including hospitals, try to minimize inventory to reduce storage costs and the value of items that aren’t actively contributing to income.

The concept of "just in time" inventory automatically means you’re going to respond poorly to sudden shifts in demand. You buy things "just in time" for what you expect, but then the unexpected happens.

Now the question of whether they were incompetent because they retaliated against medical staff during a pandemic poses a bit greater risk to their own continued employment.

Mercy Ziegler says:

Not just Doc and Hospitals

Nursing Homes are likewise running low, or even out of PPE, just like Hospitals are. And every employee at some of these nursing homes, including Nurses Aides, Cook, and Janitors are all being told that if they speak up about it they will be fired on the spot!

I had that threat leveled at me today (I’m a CNA at a nursing home) simply because I shared a meme about the lack of PPE’s on Facebook!

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: When your image is worth more than the lives of others...

It would be risky, but pointing out how ‘we fired someone working at a nursing home because they pointed out how we don’t have enough supplies to keep everyone safe’ would be a story that the local news would snap right up might get them to back off if they decide to double-down.

‘We might look bad’ is vastly overshadowed by ‘we will look terrible if this goes public’, so if they really are just concerned with saving face that would probably get them to back off.

You could also try pointing out that asking for supplies before it costs someone their life is likely to go over a hell of a lot better than it coming out that they were so desperate to avoid looking bad that they brushed everything under the rug, potentially to lethal consequences.

Debra Snead says:

Hospitals silencing workers

Hospitals are desperate for supplies. This administration works differently than the traditional political parties of the past. If the President feels that hospital workers are casting shadows on his leadership, the hospital will be told to hush up and act nice or he will have his administration delay the needed equipment and those supplies will go elsewhere.

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