CINCINNATI, OH – On Friday, Cincinnati Regional Adults Surgical Hospital (CRASH) suspended the wheelchair driver’s license of intern Velinda Soo, who was cited for her third violation in less than two weeks. Soo was transporting a patient by wheelchair to an echocardiogram appointment when CRASH Public Safety Officer Wendell Stopham pulled Soo over for driving 4.6 miles per hour in a 2.5-mile-per-hour zone.
Soo was issued a summons for a meeting with her program director and sent back to the house staff workroom on 4-East. Orderlies arrived several minutes later to complete transport of the patient, who arrived 2 minutes after the echo lab’s closing time, forcing rescheduling of the echo appointment and delaying discharge of the patient until after the weekend. “Not only did I get busted, but they blew our discharge, too! I was so close to getting him in for that echo before the weekend,” Soo bitterly complained.
For the time being, Dr. Soo can no longer transport patients by wheelchair or gurney, since she has accumulated citations for an improperly parked wheelchair and failing to yield to a gurney in the hallway. Her program director, Dr. Hoke Colburn, noted Soo’s previous citations and summarily revoked her on-call meal tickets and access to the resident’s lounge (a converted patient room with a broken coffee machine and a TV whose cable connection is on the fritz) for 2 weeks. “Dr. Soo has to learn that even though she is an excellent young physician, we will not tolerate reckless wheelchair driving in our hospital,” Colburn said.
Dr. Soo responded that she was being singled out unfairly and raised the spectre of racial profiling: “They’re targeting me because I’m an Asian female.” She also noted that she attended a medical school, Portland University of Science and Health (PUSH), that did not offer wheelchair driver’s education classes. “They don’t teach all of us to drive in med school,” Soo protested.
Daphne Chambers-von Recklinghausen, RN, BSN, CPCS, speaking for the Joint Commission, commented that, “This is a patient safety culture issue. We advocate for medical schools and residencies to offer wheelchair driver’s education classes. The Joint Commission is now making these classes a requirement for accreditation.”
In the meantime, Dr. Soo was enrolled in CRASH’s new 4-hour online Wheelchair Safety Module to remediate her infractions. CRASH, in accordance with Joint Commission mandates, will likely require all future residents to participate in the module annually and maintain clean driving records for Maintenance of Wheelchair Licensure (MOWL).