OHSU: unsafe, pervy, and broke

Every story you read lately about Oregon's wayward medical school is more disturbing than the last. Here are some lowlights in just the last three weeks.

First, they've got a safety problem up there. Patients might come out in worse shape than when they went in.

In a ranking done by Vizient, a health care consulting company, OHSU dropped to 56th place overall in quality and accountability out of 116 academic medical centers, down from 15th the year before. OHSU ranked near the bottom—105th—in terms of safety, Vizient said.

“Several of the metrics within the safety domain are related to very specific conditions where having one or two instances can impact the ratings,” Hottman said in her email. “This comes as OHSU faces unprecedented patient capacity challenges, and continues to see more high-acuity patients after years of deferred care during the pandemic. OHSU is using the feedback from the report to enhance ongoing quality and safety efforts and improve processes. For example, OHSU is relaunching the Surgical Site Infections and Hospital Acquired Conditions steering committees, which were paused in 2020.”

Committees, great!

Next, they've still got men with genuine mental problems running around on the professional staff:

A prominent researcher at Oregon Health & Science University resigned after an internal investigation found he had secretly photographed women students during class on at least two occasions in 2022, records show.

Dr. Daniel Marks, 57, who served as senior associate dean for research and professor of pediatrics, resigned effective Nov. 3 -- 17 months after records say he used his phone to take photos of women without their consent. He worked at the university for nearly 26 years.

It's not the first time, or the worst time, we've heard stories like that.

And finally, to top it all off, they've drained so much money out of the place paying themselves bonuses that they're running way in the red:

Oregon Health & Science University... reported a loss of $26 million in the six-month period that ended Dec. 31, hurt in part by generous bonuses paid to nonunion staff.

Chief financial officer Lawrence Furnstahl disclosed the figures last week in a memo to the OHSU board of directors in preparation for the board meeting this Thursday.

Excluding one-time gains and losses, OHSU’s revenue rose 12% in the first half of its fiscal year, but expenses rose more, at 14%, driven by higher wages, benefits and pricier medical supplies.

Among the wage pressures: $15 million in payments to nonunion staff in the form of President’s Recognition Awards. OHSU president Danny Jacobs announced the payments, which weren’t based on individual performance, last September, saying they would cost $12.5 million. Furnstahl’s memo indicates that the program cost increased by $2.5 million, or 20%, over what was expected.

Why an outfit this poorly run would be allowed to take over the Legacy Health system, which they'll no doubt loot and run into the ground, is a real mystery. But when it comes to Pill Hill, the fix is always in. The toxic culture goes back to the Goldschmidt days, probably further. In a sane state, it would be branded a disgrace. And get cleaned up.


  1. I agree with everything you wrote about OHSU. However, to be fair Legacy is arguably in worse financial shape (much worse) and may not be able to survive on it's own. So the choice is not a healthy and independent Legacy vs an OHSU owned Legacy, it's potentially a bankrupt and liquidated Legacy vs. an OHSU owned Legacy.

    1. I doubt Legacy would be liquidated. Someone would buy it. As a Legacy patient, I'd rather it be someone other than OHSU.

    2. Jack, would you rather be a United Healthcare patient, or someone like that?

  2. Yeah, but they still have that cool Tram.

  3. Providence Healthcare lost $310m in 3Q 2022 and $6.1b for the year. Cost issues aren’t limited to OHSU or Legacy.

    Complain about the suits at OHSU all you want. It’s still a stellar teaching hospital with many outstanding medical professionals. As the spouse of one of those professionals I take issue with the tone of this post that you might come out worse than you went in.

    1. "outstanding medical professionals" Really? If the guy leading pediatrics can't even covertly take a perverted photo competently, do you really trust him with xrays or leaving him alone with kids? Where is the evidence and audits demonstrating it's a competent teaching hospital? Remember when their heart transplant doctors quit at the same time?

      No doubt that the medical sector is in financial shambles and there's a lot of problems - but OHSU hit it's peak 10 years ago.

    2. The place is now the 12th worst in the country when it comes to patient safety. Case closed.

  4. But they are #1 in equity!

  5. Hahnemann in Philadelphia was the teaching hospital for Drexel university, which now lacks both a teaching hospital as well as most engineering classes & the old building with the earthquake/geology lab near the infectious diseases lab.

    I guess they can save money & just be a real estate hedge fund & just teach variants of ‘crushing worker 403’ At low (internal) costs in their business & law schools where classes incidentally occur sometimes in between real estate speculation?

    I wonder if our fate is similar?
    It’s a weird messed up place to put a hospital.
    I kinda feel lucky to be in far SW closest to meridian park in some ways, but there’s also OHSU and St. Vincent fairly close…hope not to need, but as you get older…
    …such thoughts do intrude…


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