ER nurses at Summa hospital say physician staffing changes put patients at risk

Nine registered nurses who work in Summa Akron (Ohio) City Hospital's emergency room said they think patients' lives are at risk as a result of Akron-based Summa Health System's decision, effective Jan. 1, to change over the physician group that staffs its ERs, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.

The nurses are concerned that some of the physicians from U.S. Acute Care Solutions, the new ER physician staffing group, are out of practice or seem unprepared to work in a fast-paced, regional trauma center, according to the report. They said they have seen some of the new physicians delay time-sensitive treatment for stroke patients, prescribe dangerously highly levels of common drugs such as insulin and heart medication and misread medical tests.

Officials from Summa Health System and USACS have disputed the nurses' allegations, noting that every physician practicing at Summa Akron City Hospital is board certified in emergency medicine and competent to work in an emergency setting, according to the report. They cite data from the hospital's ER that shows care provided by USACS physicians is comparable to the care provided by Summa Emergency Physicians, the physician group Summa previously contracted with.

The health system has been dealing with opposition of its seemingly abrupt decision to switch physician groups in its ERs since the change went into effect at the New Year. Despite the board's support of the decision, more than 250 physicians from the health system called for president and CEO Thomas Malone, MD, to resign. Dr. Malone resigned from his post in late January.

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