Brigham and Women's under scrutiny for succumbing to VIP syndrome in care for Middle Eastern prince

The Boston Globe published a detailed analysis of Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital's most recent brush with VIP syndrome — when a hospital accommodates wealthy or important patients who can pay the full medical bill with luxury amenities added on top. 

In this instance, which occurred in 2014, the hospital compromised its standards to accommodate a Middle Eastern prince. This prince sought care at the Pavilion at Brigham and Women's Hospital and took over two penthouse rooms for seven months, according to The Boston Globe report, which is based on interviews and state reports obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. 

Here are the newspaper's key findings.

1. Despite that the patient had a drug-resistant infection, nurses and physicians complied when he asked that they not wear protective gowns because he felt the gowns implied he was "dirty" and he found it offensive.

2. The prince came with an entourage that included a chef, a personal physician, six attendants and a helper/cleaner, according to the report. Against its own policies, the hospital allowed the patient's personal aides to administer routine medicines and clean his intravenous catheter, according to the report. At one point, a hospital physician was concerned the intravenous catheter was infected, but it was never removed as it would have been according to hospital policy. The report suggested this may have been because the prince was concerned about something happening to the catheter.  

3. There were concerns the patient was over-medicated due to the large amounts of narcotics he was prescribed, according to the report. However, The Boston Globe reported that a state report found the drugs prescribed were appropriate. 

4. The prince gave thousands of dollars to staff as gifts, which nurses told The Globe they turned over to managers. 

5. A staff member anonymously tipped off the health department of the situation in November 2014, which prompted the hospital to perform an internal investigation, according to the report. It also prompted the hospital to go over its private duty nurses, drug administration and infection control policies with staff, according to the report. The hospital declined to comment directly about the patient due to privacy laws, but a hospital spokeswoman told The Globe the hospital has been challenged by VIP patients before and is working to better educate staff on the impact of accommodating such requests, according to the report. 

 

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