Brigham And Women's Nurses Say Hospital Is Breaking Elective Surgery Order

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Nurses at Brigham and Women's are accusing the hospital of violating a state order that limits elective procedures and surgeries. The state had ordered hospitals that are low on space to cut down on elective procedures by 30% in November, and then to 50% by Wednesday.

The nurses are calling for an investigation from the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH). They said in a letter to the Department that urgent surgeries like head injuries and bone breaks are being shunted to the side while non-essential surgeries like tummy tucks and excess skin removals continue to take up space and time. The nurses even said in one instance, a woman with a brain bleed was forced to wait in the ER because of high surgical volume at the hospital.

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Hospitals have the option to either maintain 15% of their open beds, or cut their elective surgeries. The nurses said in the letter that some hospital staff are doing procedures they aren't trained or qualified for. A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents the Brigham Nurses, said the Department of Public Health had not yet responded to the letter as of early Tuesday afternoon.

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Mark J. Murphy is the manager of media relations and social media for the hospital. He told WBZ NewsRadio that Brigham is complying with the DPH requirement and is planning to meet the updated mandate.

"Keeping our patients’ needs at the forefront of our decision-making. We are monitoring surgical cases and inpatient beds closely and deciding which cases can be safely rescheduled by using criteria that were developed with a multi-disciplinary group of experts," Murphy said. "We are carefully balancing against the need to avoid contributing to the wave of patients that we are now seeing who require more intense care as a result of previously deferred care."

Murphy made it apparent that tummy tucks and other procedures that do not require an inpatient bed do not fall under the state's emergency order. A spokeswoman for the hospital told the Boston Globe that the facility is complying with the state's rules and is deciding which surgeries to put off based on recommendations from a group of health experts.

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