California Fines Kaiser $3M for Poor Handling of Patient Complaints
The Department of Managed Health Care on Thursday is expected to fine Kaiser Permanente $3 million for poor oversight of patient care and improper handling of complaints, the Los Angeles Times reports.
State inspectors examined 246 files involving complaints, quality-of-care concerns and other issues from eight hospitals in Kaiser's Southern California and Northern California regions.
The investigation grew out of the state's audit of problems that forced Kaiser's Northern California kidney transplant program to close last year.
The report found that Kaiser "lacked the ability to verify consistent handling of complaints throughout its medical centers or to determine whether serious or chronic problems were being addressed."
The report also found disparities among each Kaiser facility in how well complaints were addressed and how often questionable cases were being referred for peer review.
Along with paying the fine, Kaiser has agreed to:
- Create a reporting system to monitor how care is delivered and quality-of-care complaints addressed;
- Establish uniform guidelines for peer review and audit the review programs to ensure that issues are being accurately evaluated and corrected;
- Form a committee to examine member concerns and complaints; and
- Reconfigure computer systems to better track quality reviews.
Cindy Ehnes, DMHC director, said the $3 million fine could be reduced to $2 million if Kaiser makes necessary improvements.
Bernard Tyson, Kaiser's executive vice president of health plan and hospital operations, said that DMHC's report "identified the areas in which there were shortcomings, and we have corrected those shortcomings or are well on the way to correcting those shortcomings" (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.