Rush University Medical Center Courtesy of Rush University
Rush University Medical System said it spent four years installing an $18 million patient monitoring system that doesn’t work and is taking the issue to federal court, accusing the system’s developer of fraud and demanding they pay tens of millions of dollars for the trouble.
In a complaint filed Aug. 18 in Chicago, Rush accused Draeger Inc., based in Telford, Pa., of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud over its Infinity Acute Monitoring Solution, intended to monitor the breathing, vital signs and other physical conditions of patients in its 664-bed hospital and academic medical center.
Rush said it sought proposals for a facility-wide monitoring system in 2010, indicating technical requirements and asking prospective vendors to indicate if and how their equipment complied. Between spring 2010 and June 2011 Rush and Draeger officials “engaged in extensive discussions” about the system, and the hospital said the company promised “software updates could easily be pushed out over Rush’s network and implemented by Rush personnel.”
The companies signed a purchase agreement June 13, 2011, and Draeger installed the system on a rolling basis between January 2012 and January 2016. But the technology “was marked by inaccurate and unreliable alarming, erratic shifts in alarm settings and sudden erasures of patient log data,” Rush said. “The system also failed to provide key promised features, including wired-to-wireless monitoring (required for patient transport), and monitoring for de-saturation of neo-natal patients’ blood oxygen.”
Rush said those problems endangered patients and forced Rush employees to “waste thousands of hours of time” trying to fix the problems. The hospital said Draeger incorrectly blamed Rush for the problems and noted a software upgrade was “extraordinarily time-consuming and disruptive,” but didn’t fix the original issues while also introducing new problems, such as sporadically erasing patient information.
Last fall, Rush said it determined concerns about patient safety forced it to purchase a new system. Whereas it expected the Draeger approach to last at least a decade, it barely lasted five years, and the new system cost more than $30 million, not including the staff time lost to trying to keep the Draeger equipment running, Rush said.
Rush said a leading reason it chose the Draeger system was the advertised ability to use its existing network architecture to provide full wired-to-wireless monitoring, enabling the monitoring of a patient moved from a bedside monitor to a portable, battery-operated system during transport. Draeger officials allegedly made these representations after obtaining detailed specifications of the hospital’s wireless network.
The Infinity system was built around four main components: bedside monitors, larger data aggregating monitors at central nursing stations, battery-power portable monitors and M300 wireless patient-worn monitors. Rush said the portable monitors stopped collecting full data when moved to the wireless networks, and frequently stole internet protocol addresses from bedside monitors rather than self-assign an available IP address. Unless a nurse was in the room to notice a bedside monitor had been knocked offline, a patient could be left unmonitored at the central station.
There were other recurring and chronic problems, such as nuisance alarms for blood oxygen levels in neonatal patients, inaccurate heart arrhythmia monitoring for patients with pacemakers and a three-year delay in the availability of apnea monitoring, which Draeger allegedly promoted as instantly available. Further, certain essential cables “were inexplicably fragile and required frequent replacement.”
Rush wants the court to compel Draeger to return the $18 million Rush spent on the system, as well order the payment of punitive damages and legal fees.
Representing Rush in the matter is Goldstein & McClintock LLLP, of Chicagp.