Sacred Heart ER Doctor To Quit Over Care And Safety Concerns

SPOKANE, Wash. - A doctor who works in the Emergency Room at Sacred Heart Medical Center said he is retiring because the hospital no longer puts patient care and patient safety at the top of the priority list.

Dr. Jovan Ojdrovic has worked in the E.R. at Sacred Heart for 23 years. He feels he has no choice but to quit because he can no longer work there in good conscience.

"When I started in Sacred Heart in 1988, I promised myself I would not do a wallet biopsy on my patients," Ojdrovic said.

Ojdrovic also said a lot has changed at Sacred Heart in the past three years.

"One of my coworkers just last month was at a meeting where one of the administrators specifically stated the priority in the emergency department was: #1 profit, #2 productivity, #3 patient care," Ojdrovic said.

Ojdrovic is also resigning, in part, because of a 30 percent pay cut. But he said the bigger issue is that patient care and safety are starting to suffer.

"You can't do the same amount of work with lesser staff without something giving," Ojdrovic said.

Dr. Jeff Collins is the Chief Medical Officer at Sacred Heart. He does not deny that they have cut back on staffing.

"It's nice to have a lot of redundancy, and a lot of extra staff and extra resources lay around, but we can't afford that anymore. So, our struggle is to be more efficient and use our resources as efficiently as we can. And, match the resources with the need of the community," Collins said.

Collins said medical care is more expensive. And, fewer people have health care because of the financial struggles in the current economy.

But, he said those financial struggles have not, and will not, impact patient care or patient safety.

"The fact is, we continue to see all patients regardless of their ability to pay. These are challenging times, and we are struggling with the financial demands we have, as are most physicians in the community," Collins said.

Ojdrovic said his goal is not to discourage people from going to Sacred Heart's E.R. since he thinks people can still get quality care. But, he wants to change the direction Sacred Heart is going before the situation worsens, and lives are lost.

"I don't personally know of any sentinel events to date which have directly caused a patient to die, or a horrible outcome. But, if the direction continues in the direction it is right now, that will happen. I am confident of that," Ojdrovic said.

Ojdrovic will retire July 27th.