Following the recent release of a report by the Los Angeles District Attorney that found "gross negligence" in the death of a police officer, the L.A. County board of supervisors is expected to call for an independent evaluation of medical procedures at LAC-King-Drew Medical Center.
Besides the death of Deputy Sheriff Nelson Yamamoto after surgery in 1992, the report by L.A. District Attorney Gil Garcetti also found that six other patient deaths from 1987 to 1994 at the 421-bed Los Angeles facility were preventable.
The report was based on a probe by the district attorney and the state medical board. The board has filed "accusations" against four physicians for "gross negligence" in treating Yamamoto and alleges that the negligence "contributed materially" to his death.
The 26-year-old Yamamoto, who was admitted for gunshot wounds and underwent surgery, died after receiving a lethal dose of heart medications.
The board is seeking to revoke the licenses of Jake E. Davis, M.D.; Jonathan S. Heard, M.D.; Rosalyn P. Sterling-Scott, M.D.; and Anthony M. Calloway, M.D.
William Moore, a Beverly Hills attorney representing the doctors, who are black, said that the hearing and investigation on which the report was based were "racially biased." He said the investigation was "a witch hunt."
The Department of Health Services said it's conducting an internal investigation of the report.
An "open letter" from academic deans and department chairs at Drew's college of medicine obtained by MODERN HEALTHCARE said Garcetti's report contained "gross inaccuracies" and called on the DHS to conduct "an appropriate review of the quality of care" at the hospital.
Drawing on articles published in the Los Angeles Times in 1989, Garcetti's report described six other "preventable patient deaths due to physician mismanagement" at King-Drew. In one instance, according to the report, physicians slashed both jugular veins of an 18-year-old gunshot victim while trying to open a small airway in her throat.
"This was sensationalism at its worst*.*.*.*.*The jugulars involved were the small anterior jugular veins, which are often involved in this life-saving intervention, and not the external jugular veins with which most of us are familiar," the King-Drew physicians said. Besides, "the patient is alive and well and is now the mother of a 6-year-old child," the King-Drew letter said.
King-Drew was fully accredited for four years by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the California Medical Association in August 1994, the letter said.
Garcetti's report said the district attorney's office "continues to receive reports of allegedly preventable patient deaths" at King-Drew that "bear similarities to the pattern of deficiencies" cited in the earlier deaths.