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Tesla’s new Fremont factory clinic gets slammed by Reveal in worrying report, doctor denies

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla’s Fremont factory has a new clinic to provide health care to employees amid reports of safety concerns at the factory.

Now Reveal slams the new clinic in a worrying report and the doctor in charge denies the accusation.

Over the last year, Tesla has been subject to several claims of safety concerns at the Fremont factory.

Reveal, a publication that calls itself “the Center for Investigative Reporting”, has published several reports claiming that Tesla under reports injuries at the factory in order to hide problems.

Earlier this year, Tesla denied the accusation in a lengthy blog post.

The automaker claimed that Reveal was orchestrating “an ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla.”

During the latest earnings call last month, Musk again called the accusation “quite unfair” and announced that OSHA completed their investigation and concluded that they are not under-reporting injuries.

He also brought Laurie Shelby, Tesla Vice President, Environment, Health and Safety, to discuss the company’s latest progress in terms of safety.

She announced the new clinic:

“We’ve also just opened a new and improved health clinic. So when injuries do occur, we get the absolute best care for our associates and it’s actually overseen by one of California’s leading orthopedic surgeons. And we did that because most of our injuries like we said like 80%, 85% are those sprains and strains. So now they get that best care here on site and we have 24/7 care. We’re actually staffed by three full-time doctors and nurses and I’m really super happy with the care they’re giving and I think employees are as well.”

In a new report published this week, Reveal claim that the new clinic’s priority is to reduce injury reports instead of providing health care to workers.

They describe appalling practices of refusing to do stitches, provide braces, call ambulances, and even misdiagnosed injured workers all in an attempt to reduce reported injuries at Fremont factory.

Most of their claims are based on comments from Anna Watson, a physician assistant who worked at the clinic for 3 weeks in August and claims to have been fired after she raised concerned about some of those claims.

Tesla didn’t respond to the report, but Basil Besh, the doctor who runs the clinic for Tesla, issued a statement about the report:

“I spent nearly one hour with Reveal detailing Tesla’s decision earlier this year to bring me and my medical team on site at Fremont, providing its employees with state-of-the-art occupational and musculoskeletal health care. I detailed our vision for exemplary patient care and I gave specific examples of protocol improvements and subsequent successes in outcomes in only four short months, including accurate diagnoses and reducing needless delays for advanced testing and treatment. I patiently educated Will Evans on how Tesla allowed me to give the same care to Tesla employees that I do to my private patients including ones who are professional athletes, with the ability to get necessary testing and treatment in a timely manner without being hindered by an often cumbersome California Worker’s Compensation System that sometimes negatively effects injured workers.

I counseled Will on the difference between subjective complaints of pain, which cannot be proven and are often magnified, and objective signs found only on careful clinical examination by an experienced physician. I even mailed Will a copy of a relevant chapter from the American Medical Association Return to Work Guidelines and offered to make myself available for additional questions. Research and evidence-based medicine indicate that deconditioning injuries involving sore muscles should not be treated with inactivity as this only exacerbates the problem, but should instead be treated by proactive conditioning, ergonomic modifications and supportive care. Not all patients in pain should be off work, at home and on opioids. In fact, it is most often in these patients’ best interest to have supportive care that enhances their activity, their function, and their well-being.

As a physician, my foremost obligation is to perform a careful history and physical examination, order additional tests when clinically indicated, make an accurate diagnosis, and deliver the absolute best care possible. If patients are injured and continued work presents safety issues for the patient, myself and my fellow physicians prescribe the appropriate work restrictions. Any suggestion that myself or any of my medical team at AOC allow external factors to influence our medical care in any way is false and inaccurate.

I advised Will on why ambulances should be reserved for life or limb threatening injuries and that every ambulance that is thoughtlessly called for a non-life-threatening injury is one less ambulance that is available to actually save a life rather than be used as a convenience. Most importantly, all members of my team are empowered to call 911 for any limb or life-threatening condition.

Rather than deliver an informative and balanced piece of journalism, Reveal has instead chosen to hitch its wagon to Ms. Anna Watson, a provider with whom we severed ties after less than two weeks at our clinic and about whom I cannot provide any additional comment as she is currently the subject of an investigation by the California Medical Board. Instead of highlighting the tremendous progress being made in both patient safety and patient care at Tesla, this report uses poor sourcing to tell a story consistent with a predetermined agenda.”

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