Critical on Hospital Report
Your lead article in your special report on L.A.’s hospitals (“Checking In Can Make you Sick,” Sept. 9) was sick itself and sickened me to read. You cheapened your reputation as a legitimate news source by distorting the significance of the estimates you reported on regarding the number of people who die each year in our nation’s hospitals due to medical mistakes.
You translated a 98,000 per year figure extracted from a report by the Institute of Medicine to mean “that’s nearly 20 [deaths caused by medical errors] for each of the nation’s 4,900 hospitals.” You could have translated that another way. Approximately 35 million people are admitted to our nation’s hospitals each year, and while hospitals and the dedicated health care practitioners who work in them hate to lose even one patient to death for any reason, the figure you cited may also be translated to mean that 99.7 percent of patients admitted to our nation’s hospitals need not fear death due to medical errors.
The hospitals serving Los Angeles residents are working diligently with government regulators, hospital accrediting bodies, and health care delivery experts to reduce medical errors. We wish we could eliminate them altogether, but “to err is human,” and the medical care delivered to patients in hospital settings is delivered by a multiplicity of highly skilled medical and allied health personnel, all of them very, very human.
Executive Vice President
Hospital Association of Southern California, Los Angeles
In (“Model Port Offers Distinct Lessons”, Sept. 2) there is one additional issue direct1y related to port automation and the health and safety of the surrounding communities.
In highly automated ports such as Singapore, most of the work of handling containers is performed by electrically powered equipment. This eliminates hundreds of diesel engines used to power equipment performing the same tasks in low-tech ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Communities surrounding the ports of L.A. and Long Beach are at extreme health risk from the diesel emissions generated by the ports. The state has declared that diesel exhaust is a carcinogenic and toxic air contaminant. A study done by the South Coast Air Quality Management District states that the risk of cancer as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust in Wilmington is 1,182 per million in population. The federal threshold is one per million. In Los Angeles and Long Beach, the health of the community is sacrificed to the financial interests of the shipping companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
President, San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners’ Coalition