CASH-ON-DEMAND EPIDURALS: Hospital To Apologize For Practice
Northridge Hospital Medical Center is scheduled "to apologize publicly today to a woman who was denied epidural anesthesia because she could not pay cash upfront while having a baby there last summer," the Los Angeles Times reports. And in response to a state investigation that found the hospital's cash-on-demand epidural policy violated state law, Northridge "has promised the state of California that such incidents will not recur." To ensure that it does not happen again, Northridge has provided "formal notice" to its anesthesiologists that requesting cash for epidurals is grounds for termination. In a report filed yesterday with the state Department of Health Services, Northridge outlined several procedures they were taking to ensure the epidural violations would not recur. They include requiring that epidurals be available to all women upon request, training nurses about the correct epidural policy, asking patients if they were requested to pay cash for pain relief and requiring hospital employees to report any violations to hospital authorities.
Northridge President Roger Seaver said he and the hospital "sincerely regret" that a Medi-Cal woman was denied the pain-killing treatment. "On behalf of our entire staff, I want to extend our heartfelt sympathy to this patient and her family. ... We feel very confident that this particular incident could never happen at Northridge Hospital again," he said. He noted "that Northridge Hospital is committed to providing health care for poor people, and that its trauma center and planned new pediatric center would be jeopardized" if the state revokes the hospital's Medi-Cal contract because of the incident (Bernstein, 7/2).