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Medical mistakes?

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Complaints are picking up about the SunHealth Behavorial Health System long-term nursing home for the elderly located at 8050 Northview in Boise, according to records from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

State reports dated April 6, 2007, indicate 50 reported medication errors, most of them due to flawed record-keeping. The same document cites the hospital's administration for failure "to ensure that an ongoing program for quality improvement was defined and implemented." The medical staff was cited for failure to "adopt and enforce bylaws to ensure bylaws to carry out its responsibility." Lack of quality-assurance protocols were also listed in the complaint.

Two other surveys, dated April 9, 2007, substantiated a medication error sufficiently serious to get an 83-year-old patient admitted to an acute care hospital, and an unsubstantiated complaint concerning another alleged medication problem.

As of press time, Cindy Breur, a spokeswoman for SunHealth, had not responded to requests for comment.

SunHealth Healthcare Group, the local facility's parent company, operates out of Irvine California and operates 151 homes with some 15,600 beds in 19 states. It also supplies healthcare supplies and services in 34 states, and employs more than 19,000 full-time staff. SunHealth also owns Sun Bridge Healthcare Corp. and other health-care and rehabilitation outlets.

Despite the complaints, SunHealth is seen favorably by some local health-care providers.

"We've gotten really good assistance from them when we've needed it for our geriatric patients suffering from dementia with agitation," said Gwen Thornfeld, director of Social Work Services for the Idaho State Veterans Home. "I don't have any issues with the care they've received there. I used to work there and found the staff to be accommodating and professional."

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