NEW ORLEANS — On Friday, a blistering investigative report emerged about the death and injury of black mothers during childbirth. A New Orleans hospital was among those in the crosshairs.
USA Today looked at data from hospitals across the country. One of the organizations addressed was Touro Hospital in Uptown New Orleans.
Touro officials responded to these allegations in the media about maternity care, stating, among other reasons, the hospital takes a higher number of pregnant patients who are on Medicaid and those without private insurance.
'Untrue from the outset'
"When I finally looked down and they took me off the stretcher
and put me in the hospital, I looked down and it was like piles of blood, like gallons of blood like running down my legs," Simone Landrum, a mother and former Touro patient said.
A year and a half ago, Landrum's baby girl Harmony was stillborn at Touro. She said she believes despite her complaining of pain and headaches, her Preeclampsia wasn't diagnosed until it was too late.
Still, she said that the doctors at the hospital saved her life.
"Honestly feel like it was that specific doctor, because Touro, basically, they saved me that day," Landrum said. "Honestly, I just feel like they need to investigate him."
The investigation from USA Today found that situations like Landrum's are too common at Touro.
"These kinds of life-threatening childbirth complications are happening at Touro more often than at most hospitals. It is one of 120 hospitals where mothers suffer severe complications at far higher rates," the report states.
Touro answered those claims.
"We have a higher rate of obesity, we have a lot higher rate of heart disease, we have a lot of higher rates of stroke heart attacks, not only in pregnant people but in our general population," said Dr. Paul de Treil, OB/GYN and Director of Maternal Child Health at Touro Hospital
Touro officials said the report only looked at billing data where conditions are entered by codes and don't give the full picture of the medical complications a patients comes in with.
They also said comparing their data to hospitals with fewer high-risk patients in healthier states skews the picture.
LSU Health has its OB/GYN Residency Program at Touro and said the allegations are unfounded.
"[They] are not only unsupported by fact, but we made it clear that the allegations were untrue from the outset. Information about continuing initiatives led by LSU Health faculty to improve maternal health was intentionally excluded," the organization said in a statement Friday.
Touro officials said LSU's resident doctors get the sickest of the sickest patients and are constantly supervised.
"Their faculty are here 24/7, they stay in the hospital with them on the labor and delivery unit, so they're present throughout all these deliveries," De Treil said.
The USA Today investigation states that the numbers cannot be explained by demographics alone.
Touro officials said they are in no way blaming patients for outcomes.
And LSU Health officials said they are part of the statewide initiatives to implement best practices to every woman, every time, driving systemic change that doesn't leave anyone behind, no matter who they are.
Statement from Touro Infirmary:
"As a leader in women’s health, we believe that Touro and its providers are part of the solution to ensuring the best possible outcomes for mothers and babies across the Greater New Orleans area. In our community and across the nation this is a pressing issue, we are committed to being part of the solution.
In addition to continuously working to ensure we are providing the highest quality of care for patients while in the hospital, we work in collaboration with community partners and local government agencies to address other contributing factors to maternal outcomes, including what happens before, during and after pregnancy.
Touro is committed to excellence in providing patients with a safe and healing environment. As one of the largest birthing hospitals in the State of Louisiana, providing the highest quality care to our maternal-child population is a top priority for our organization."
Statement from LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
"A recent USA Today story about maternal health in New Orleans and our OB/GYN Residency Program made allegations that are not only unsupported by fact, but we made it clear that the allegations were untrue from the outset. Information about continuing initiatives led by LSU Health faculty to improve maternal health was intentionally excluded. The health and well-being of our patients is always at the forefront, and like other reputable institutions, we are constantly working to advance care. These efforts were left out of the story, so it was not balanced.
The data cited in the story represent an independent media review of unpublished raw data, not a scientific analysis subject to critical peer review, evaluation and verification by knowledgeable experts. Absent this rigorous and transparent process, which is standard practice in the scientific community, conclusions drawn from it are questionable at best.
The LSU OB/GYN New Orleans Residency Program is an ACGME-accredited program and has received Continued Accreditation status from the ACGME. The previous accreditation statuses from prior years referenced in the USA Today article were not due to any concerns regarding resident supervision or patient care. Residents are taught evidence based medicine in order to provide the highest quality of care to our high-risk patient population. The OB/GYN residents at Touro are supervised by faculty physicians who are in the hospital with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Direct supervision of all resident care is provided including deliveries, surgeries and procedures.
Transitions of care, equally important to patient safety, have been part of the daily routine with LSU Health resident service for years. The entire Obstetrics team, including the attending physicians, review the entire census of their service at least twice per 24-hour period. A safety huddle also occurs daily on L&D that includes a multidisciplinary approach. Closed loop communication techniques strengthen the patient care model between nurse, provider, patient, and family
As a clarification, “fellows” have graduated from an OB/GYN residency program and are approved to practice general OB/GYN as well as supervise residents. The fellow mentioned in the USA Today article was a credentialed member of the medical staff who was trained and fully qualified to manage obstetric patients, independently.
Physicians who practice OB/GYN may be board eligible or board certified. Practicing OB/GYNs who are not board certified are board eligible and able to practice independently. Some go on to become board certified; others choose to not pursue board certification.
With no basis in fact, drawing an association between our residency program and maternal morbidity and mortality has caused great harm to a program that is dedicated to teaching young physicians patient care of the highest quality. Unjustly and irresponsibly frightening pregnant women away from care may well cost lives.
There are no physicians more passionate about taking the best care possible of their patients than LSU OB/GYN faculty and residents. LSU Health is one of many providers at Touro, and LSU OB/GYN routinely and successfully manages complex cases among patients from all walks of life including under-served and disadvantaged patients, providing an invaluable safety net to this population.