Nebraska Medical Association raises concerns about patient care, safety at Children’s Hospital

Nebraska Medical Association raises concerns about patient care, safety at Children’s Hospital
World-Herald News Service

The Nebraska Medical Association has sent a letter to the board of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center expressing concerns about “patient care, safety and quality” at the Omaha hospital and the loss of longtime physicians.

Dr. Britt Thedinger, president of the group, wrote that the letter was based on “numerous calls and comments” from physicians in Omaha, Lincoln and elsewhere in Nebraska.

The Medical Association, according to its website, represents almost 3,000 active and retired physicians, residents and medical students across Nebraska. “We as physicians are concerned about the summary suspensions, terminations and resignations of long-time outstanding physician colleagues,” wrote Thedinger, an Omaha ear specialist.

He also said members of the organization “are saddened to hear of children being transferred to outside institutions for additional care because of complications and inadequate specialist physician coverage at Children’s Hospital.”

Thedinger declined to elaborate on those concerns. He said Thursday that he had not received any official response to the letter from the hospital’s board or its administration. The letter was dated Dec. 11.

Dr. Richard Azizkhan, Children’s president and CEO, said in a statement to The World-Herald that the “positive impact (Children’s) is having on the health of children in our region has never been greater.”

He said the hospital recognizes that the community needs additional specialists and other experts so that families are not forced to travel long distances to get specialized care.

“We are working to change that by actively recruiting more specialty physicians; growing our clinical expertise; advancing research and education initiatives; enhancing our physical and virtual infrastructure; and establishing additional collaborative relationships with regional health systems and communities across the region,” he said.

Azizkhan said the hospital is hiring physicians and “will continue to strengthen the health care available to children in Omaha.”

In the letter, Thedinger called Children’s “a trusted community asset, and for children and their families, a trusted institution.” A physician in private practice, Thedinger noted that he has also been a member of the hospital’s medical staff for more than 26 years.

(Nebraska Medical Association Letter)

Two other physicians have told The World-Herald that they were suspended by the hospital in the fall after speaking up about some of the same patient concerns outlined in the letter. They later resigned from Children’s but are still practicing in Omaha.

Several mothers of children who are or have been patients of the two doctors said some families weren’t notified that the physicians were no longer with the hospital. Some patients, they said, have been referred to doctors without the same level of training and experience.

One patient said she has not received notification from the hospital, although she acknowledged that that may be because she has largely seen the doctors in their private practices. Two of her four children have been treated by the two doctors.

Azizkhan said in the statement that hospital officials could not discuss personnel matters. “We can say that from time to time physicians will make decisions based on their individual circumstances. We do all we can to minimize the impact on our patient families and apologize for any inconvenience.”