An internal government report found that one hospital was so short of thermometers it could screen staff and patients for coronavirus only at random.
By Laura Strickler, Hannah Rappleye, Dan De Luce and Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON — Hospitals across the country face dire shortages of vital medical equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak — including testing kits and thermometers — and fear they can’t ensure the safety of health care workers needed to treat patients with COVID-19, according to an internal government watchdog report released Monday.
The alarming findings, based on interviews conducted from March 23 to March 27, represent the first government assessment of how the country’s hospitals are coping with the outbreak and confirm previous media reports and warnings from health workers that the medical system is under unprecedented strain.
Hospital administrators also said conflicting guidance from federal, state and local governments on how to use personal protective gear and other issues has led to “a greater sense of confusion, fear and distrust among staff that they can rely on hospital procedures to protect them,” according to the report from the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS.
Equipment provided to hospitals from the federal government fell far short of what was needed and was sometimes not usable or of low quality, said the report, which was based on interviews with administrators from 324 hospitals and hospital networks of varying sizes.