The hospital involved in the tragic events which befell Marlen Ochoa-Lopez and her infant son has been inspected by federal authorities, who found serious issues with communication protocols.
The murder of Ms. Ochoa-Lopez captivated the nation’s attention this spring. Authorities believe that Ms. Ochoa-Lopez was lured to the home of a stranger who had offered free baby clothes via a Facebook post. She entered the home of Clarisa and Desiree Figueroa, purported clothing sellers. Once inside, Ms. Ochoa-Lopez was attacked and strangled to death. Clarisa Figueroa then cut into Ochoa-Lopez’s lifeless body and extracted the body of her son.
Figueroa contacted emergency medical services, claiming that she had just given birth and that her infant was not breathing. EMS transported Figueroa and the infant to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL. At the medical center, Figueroa showed “no signs consistent with having recently given birth”.
Despite these strange circumstances, Christ Medical Center did not contact legal authorities or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services until 17 days after the woman and infant arrived at the hospital. This was two days after Chicago police officers arrived at the facility in connection with Ms. Ochoa-Lopez’s disappearance, which had been reported by her family. A group of teens who were friends with Ms. Ochoa-Lopez alerted detectives to her social media, which she used to communicate with the Figueroas.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conducted an investigation into Christ Medical Center, focusing on the relatively long time period during which the hospital did not contact authorities. A report was issued, summarizing the findings. The report stated that “the Hospital failed to implement and maintain a system that ensures Administrative staff’s knowledge of police activities within the Hospital, to assist in providing patient care in a safe setting,” adding, “This potentially places all patients … at risk for harm.”
The report was released on the day that Marlen Ochoa-Lopez’s infant son, Yovanny Jadiel Lopez, passed away. Despite the issues highlighted in the report, CMS determined that Christ Medical Center remains in “substantial compliance” with federal standards. Therefore, it will continue to receive reimbursement for services.
Miscommunications and Medical Malpractice
This report highlights communication issues which have become all-too-common, especially in larger hospitals. Miscommunication in these healthcare settings is a very serious issue. Studies have found that these types of communication failures are one of the contributing factors to diagnostic errors and other types of medical malpractice. A timely, correct diagnosis can be critical to positive patient outcomes. Failure to do, and the resulting treatment delays, can lead to suboptimal outcomes and even more serious consequences for the patient and their loved ones.
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