Roaches in the operating room: Doctors at HCA hospital in Florida say patient care has suffered from cost cutting


On Dec. 7, 2021, more than a lots cosmetic surgeons assembled a conference at their medical facility, HCA Florida Bayonet Point in Hudson, Florida. Their issues about client security at the 290- bed intense care center owned by HCA Healthcare Inc. had actually been magnifying for months and the medical professionals had actually asked for the conference to press management to resolve their problems.

Unsanitary surgical instruments, insufficient tracking of ICU clients, an overruning emergency situation department, anesthesiology mistakes that led to clients getting up while in surgical treatment — all were claims ripe for conversation.

The conference quickly took an amazing turn, 4 physicians who participated in informed NBC News. With a medical facility administration authorities on hand to hear the responses, the group was asked 2 concerns. Is the medical facility supplying a safe environment in which to carry out surgical treatment? “No,” everybody in the group addressed, according to the 4 medical professionals. Is it a hazardous location to practice? “Yes,” came the consentaneous reply.

Leaks and various medical equipment held together with medical tape and a roach inside an  operating room at Bayonet Point Hospital in 2022.
A roach inside an operating space, leakages and numerous medical devices held together with medical tape at Bayonet Point Hospital in 2022. Obtained by NBC News

The medical facility administrator assured to resolve the physicians’ concerns, participants informed NBC News. More than a year later on, little has actually altered, they stated. A spokesperson for the medical facility decreased to discuss the conference.

HCA Healthcare Inc., owner of Bayonet Point, is America’s biggest healthcare facility business, operating 182 medical facilities and 125 surgical treatment focuses throughout the country and in the U.K. HCA is extremely rewarding — in 2015 it made $5.6 billion — and its stock is a financier favorite.

But HCA’s laser concentrate on earnings can put its clients at threat as it cuts expenses and corners, state 7 of the business’s medical professionals in California, Florida, Texas and Virginia, a few of whom connected to NBC News after our report last month about HCA Nurses in 5 states concur. The Majority Of HCA Florida’s that have actually been ranked by the federal company accountable for Medicare and Medicaid presently rank below par, and state regulators have actually raised concerns about client care at Bayonet Point a minimum of two times in the previous 2 years.

Four doctors at Bayonet Point shared current experiences for this short article; 3 asked for privacy to go over the healthcare facility since they stated they feared retaliation by HCA.

All 4 medical professionals stated the quality of care at the center has actually decreased substantially because 2021, when HCA cut personnel and started employing agreement employees. They stated that the variety of so-called guard occasions — patient security occurrences that lead to death, long-term or serious momentary damage — have actually increased. In January 2022, there were 18 “near misses out on” amongst clients ready to go through surgical treatment, stated Dr. George Giannakopoulos, 65, a neurosurgeon and the healthcare facility’s chief of personnel at the time. One such “near miss out on” happened, he stated, when the incorrect side of a client was prepped for surgical treatment — anesthetizing a left hip that ought to have been the right.

Even as Bayonet Point commemorates the opening of a brand-new $85 million tower with 102 extra beds, current images of the existing center supplied by medical professionals reveal ceiling leakages in a healing space, oxygen devices held together with tape, bloody and backed-up sinks, wires hanging from a hole in the wall and cockroaches in the operating space.

Regina Temple is president of Bayonet Point. She decreased an interview demand by NBC News to go over the medical professionals’ claims. The health center’s spokesperson supplied a declaration that did not respond to much of the concerns presented by NBC News, consisting of those about claims of increasing ” guard occasions” at the medical facility, the 18 “near misses out on” in the OR in a month, the rotting facilities or insects.

In her declaration, the spokesperson stated: “As a knowing medical facility, we are constantly trying to find methods to enhance client security and quality of care. We use those knowings, consisting of reports by both federal and state regulators, to make sure finest practices for quality care remain in location. HCA Florida Bayonet Point Hospital is properly staffed to make sure the safe care of our clients. We count on feedback from our doctors, and when problems are confirmed we take required action.”

Bayonet Point Hospital
Bayonet Point Hospital. NBC News

NBC News likewise requested an interview with Samuel N. Hazen, HCA Healthcare’s president. He decreased however a representative for the business stated in a declaration that HCA Healthcare has more doctors –45,000 — practicing at its centers than ever. “We have the ability to bring in doctors in part due to the systems we have in location to constantly enhance quality,” he stated, including that HCA’s newest doctor engagement study revealed “outcomes at all-time highs, including their self-confidence in our quality efforts. Our technique to guaranteeing top quality care is rooted in our belief of constantly doing what is right for our clients.”

Complaint studies submitted by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration over the previous 2 years strengthen the doctors’ issues about the medical facility. Last September, for instance, nurse-to-patient staffing ratios failed at Bayonet Point, firm files reveal, with one employee informing federal government private investigators that “she does not feel safe with the variety of clients per nurse.”

In April 2021, AHCA identified that Bayonet Point had ” stopped working to implement the emergency situation department policy and treatments to secure the health and wellness of all clients in the medical facility’s ED.” AHCA stated, for instance, that staffers whose sole task was to view electronic displays for modifications in clients’ crucial indications were likewise functioning as system secretaries, “responding to phones, moving calls, taking written messages, and being sidetracked by other jobs that included them not taking a look at the screens for extended periods of time.”

The health center’s spokesperson validated in her declaration that the studies finished by AHCA had actually “recognized problems, and we dealt with AHCA to fix those problems effectively.”

Last November, authorities from AHCA interacted with the healthcare facility, 2 Bayonet Point physicians informed NBC News, cautioning that the center may stop getting Medicare and Medicaid repayments if it did not remedy its shortages. AHCA did not react to ask for details about the interaction. Inquired about this event and its previous shortages, the healthcare facility spokesperson did not react other than to state: “Today, our healthcare facility remains in great standing with all regulative and accrediting bodies, consisting of AHCA.”

On its health center contrast site, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers healthcare for more than 60 million Americans, appoints Bayonet Point a general one-star ranking out of 5, the most affordable star ranking appointed by the federal government.

” The CMS rankings are based upon 2017-2019 information and we have actually considering that enhanced our efficiency,” the healthcare facility’s spokesperson stated.

Waking up throughout brain surgical treatment

Florida, with its senior population, is a huge market for HCA, which has 49 health centers there — the biggest variety of any state, according to its site.

The CMS quality contrast site rates 37 of HCA’s Florida medical facilities on its first-class system. Totally 70% of them are ranked below par, at one or 2 stars. None of the HCA Florida healthcare facilities presently have a luxury score.

Neurosurgeon George Giannakopoulos, a 29- year veteran at Bayonet Point and the health center’s chief of personnel for the previous 8 years, stated he has actually grown significantly disrupted — and singing — about hazardous and unhygienic conditions at the healthcare facility. He stated he’s had criticisms for many years about how the medical facility was run however that issues actually sped up in2021

” I put clients initially,” Giannakopoulos informed NBC News. ” I do not care how far I need to go.”

Dr. George Giannakopoulos
Dr. George Giannakopoulos. Anna Schecter/ NBC News

But selecting to speak up appears to have actually put a target on his back, files and interviews with fellow physicians suggest. Following his criticisms of the healthcare facility and duplicated pleas for enhancements, its management took an impressive action in January.

Though Giannakopoulos’s peers resoundingly re-elected him as Bayonet Point’s chief of personnel for 2 more years last fall, the health center’s board later on declined the election, files reveal. In a relocation the physicians called unmatched, the board set up another doctor in the position. The board accepted the election results for 2 extra officers — vice chief of personnel and secretary.

After the physicians challenged the relocation, an attorney for the health center’s board sent out a letter to Giannakopoulos stating it had actually voted “not to authorize” the election. “If Dr. Giannakopoulos tries to participate in conferences of the Medical Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees, or other Medical Staff Committees,” the letter continued, “he will be avoided from doing so by security and, if essential, he will be accompanied off the health center’s residential or commercial property.”

Dr. Christine Behan, a household medication doctor and agreement worker of the healthcare facility, chairs its board. She stated the board’s invalidation of the election was “in the very best interest of the health center and its clients.” She pointed out “duplicated circumstances of improper and less than professional habits, consisting of threatening, chewing out, and scolding personnel, doctors and medical facility administrators,” by Giannakopoulos. “The board concluded that he might not work cooperatively and collegially with health center administration and the board,” she stated.

Giannakopoulos challenged Behan’s account. ” All those charges were made by the medical facility administration to keep me from being chief of personnel since I was calling them out on client care,” he stated. The 3 other medical professionals talked to by NBC News stated they likewise thought this to be the case.

Bayonet Point’s brand-new chief of personnel is Dr. Rami Akel, a cardiologist who is likewise director of HCA Florida Bayonet Point’s Cardiology Fellowship Program NBC News asked if Akel gets extra settlement for that position; the health center spokesperson did not react. Akel did not return a call looking for remark.

Patient dangers actually started to install in 2021, medical professionals at Bayonet Point state, when the health center slashed its anesthesiology personnel — going from 15 suppliers to one — and started working with agreement workers associated with HCA’s Physician Services Group, an internal staffing system. The brand-new staff members were not as devoted or gifted as the personnel they ‘d changed, Giannakopoulos and other cosmetic surgeons stated, and frightening mistakes started to take place. In one occurrence, Giannakopoulos stated he had actually simply started a brain surgical treatment treatment, putting the client’s head on sharp instruments referred to as “pins” for assistance, when the client awakened and attempted to leave the operating room.

” Those pins had to do with 2 centimeters far from the eye,” Giannakopoulos stated. “So, you can picture that might have been terrible.”

The Bayonet Point spokesperson did not react to concerns about this occurrence or the physicians’ anesthesiology issues.

Last October, practically a year after the remarkable conference at which the cosmetic surgeons identified the healthcare facility as risky, Giannakopoulos sent out a letter to Bayonet Point management. In it he detailed considerable shortages he and his fellow doctors had actually observed at the health center.

” At the demand of the medical personnel by consentaneous vote, I have actually been asked to call you and evaluate you of the alarming and unsafe conditions at our health center,” started the letter, which was examined by NBC News. In it he informed of supposed shortages in the emergency situation department, the ICU, nurse staffing, and anesthesia, “resulting in a minimum of a couple deaths,” he composed.

Hazen, president of HCA Healthcare, was copied on the letter together with other executives. Giannakopoulos stated he got no actions at all about its contents.

A couple of weeks after sending out the letter, Giannakopoulos was re-elected chief of personnel, the 4 medical professionals informed us. By January, nevertheless, the board ruled he was out.

Reduced surgical treatment hours

On an early night in February 2022, a client reached Bayonet Point’s emergency situation department with a burst aneurysm, Giannakopoulos stated. Surgical treatment to coil the aneurysm was set up for early the next early morning, he stated, and personnel was advised to keep an eye on the client carefully over night.

Next early morning, when it came time for the treatment, the client was comatose, Giannakopoulos stated. In the client’s file, he stated, there were no nurse’s notes detailing the tracking that had actually been required throughout the over night hours. The client later on passed away.

” It was apparent what had actually taken place,” Giannakopoulos stated. “Nobody had actually seen the client from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.”

Asked about this occurrence, the Bayonet spokesperson did not react.

All 7 of the HCA medical professionals talked to by NBC News for this short article stated they think the business’s medical facilities are handled to optimize development in monetary metrics and investor returns which client care suffers as an outcome. The brand-new $85 million structure at Bayonet Point is an example, the medical professionals there state. Increasing admissions by including 102 brand-new beds appears more vital than fixing damaged devices in the existing structure, removing bugs in the operating space, or employing personnel in the emergency situation department, they stated.

The Bayonet spokesperson stated the medical facility is developing the brand-new tower “to satisfy the neighborhood’s requirements for rehab services, broadened medical and surgical services, and vital care. In the previous 3 years we have actually invested an extra $123 million to enhance and update lots of locations of the medical facility. Particularly, we refurbished and broadened our ER and upgraded our Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, Preoperative/Holding Area, and Central Sterile Processing Unit. In addition, we made upgrades to the snack bar and typical locations, purchased brand-new devices and basic upkeep, consisting of fixing small roofing damage.”

Bayonet Point medical facility is presently ranked “A” for client security by Leapfrog Group, a company that ranks healthcare facilities and explains itself as a healthcare guard dog.

Leapfrog likewise ranked Bayonet Point “A” in November 2021, a month after the group of worried cosmetic surgeons had actually all identified the medical facility as hazardous, Leapfrog’s site programs. “Receiving the ‘A’ grade confirms our dedication to security,” Bayonet Point’s CEO Temple stated in a healthcare facility press release

Responding to concerns from NBC News about the ranking in the middle of the Bayonet Point medical professionals’ severe issues, Leah Binder, Leapfrog’s president, stated health centers make grades based upon 30 steps of security that come mainly from the federal government.

” An ‘A’ grade indicates this healthcare facility did much better than a ‘B’- graded healthcare facility — it does not indicate they are completely safe,” she stated. “What this story raises is we require much better methods for clients and clinicians to report issues with security to a federal entity that can utilize that information and follow up and do examinations.”

HCA has some associations with Leapfrog. An HCA doctor is among 17 healthcare facility members of Leapfrog’s Hospital Advisory Committee and another HCA staff member is on among Leapfrog’s 12 “professional panels.” HCA Healthcare is likewise member of Leapfrog’s 18- entity “ Partners Advisory Committee” for which HCA pays $35,000 in yearly fees.

Binder stated HCA’s participation on Leapfrog committees or panels provides it no impact on scores.

Last year, the National Labor Relations Board implicated Bayonet Point of taking part in anti-union activity versus its workers, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times The federal firm, which safeguards employees’ rights to arrange, concluded that health center authorities had actually questioned Bayonet Point employees about their union activity and threatened to fire them.

The health center settled with the company last November, files reveal, accepting publish notifications detailing employees’ rights to unionize and stating that management would not threaten them with termination or “develop the impression that we are taking part in monitoring of your union activities or other safeguarded collective activities.”

In a declaration, Bayonet Point stated it ” appreciates the rights of our caretakers and, while we decline any claims of misdeed, we accepted publish the leaflet notifying our coworkers of their rights.”

Meanwhile, in addition to declining Giannakopoulos’ election last fall as chief of personnel at Bayonet Point, the medical facility has actually minimized his surgical treatment hours — a step of retaliation for speaking up, he thinks. The health center spokesperson did not react to a concern about minimizing the neurosurgeon’s surgical treatment hours.

Giannakopoulos continues to operate at the healthcare facility, a location he calls house after almost 3 years.

” I will endure,” he stated. “What actually troubles me the most — I appreciate what’s going to take place to Bayonet Point and the clients that exist. To drive Bayonet Point down to the ground since of cash, since of earnings ahead of client care, it is not appropriate.”

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