Medical Malpractice Alleged in Hospital Death

Sharp Grossmont Hospital is under investigation after an anonymous tipster told officials that the recent death of a patient was not due to natural causes but because of medical malpractice. Harvey Houtkin, a successful author, died on July 25th after what was considered uneventful surgery on his tonsils. The cause of death was listed as natural until a physician anonymously told investigators that Mr. Houtkin died after his breathing tube became dislodged, blocked his airway, and no one noticed. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that:

No staff member had noticed quickly enough that Houtkin had turned blue, the doctor said, and efforts to save him came too late. What ensued was a very messy scene where the anesthesiologists could not reintubate the patient and the surgeon could not establish an opening in the windpipe, the physician said.

The hospital, of course, is denying this.

But recent events at this hospital make is sound more like some third-world health facility, not a state-of-the-art hospital in the orbit of America’s Finest City. During two state inspections last spring investigators found numerous deficiencies, including poorly trained nurses, improper use of restraints, an old operating room mattress (held together with tape and glue), and other problems. They also discovered three deaths that they deemed were preventable.

Sharp Grossmont Hospital is now at risk of losing federal funding.

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