Changes at King/Drew Medical Center Sufficient To Maintain Medicare Funding, CMS Says
CMS said Friday that it would not revoke Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center's certification to participate in Medicare because it found that the hospital "submitted adequate plans for correcting widespread flaws in the way it administers drugs to patients," the Los Angeles Times reports (Hymon, Los Angeles Times, 3/20). CMS told hospital officials earlier this month that the hospital had until March 23 to make the changes in order to retain the $200 million per year it receives from Medicare and Medi-Cal. Earlier this month, Department of Health Services officials told leaders at the hospital that the agency planned to cite the facility for an incident in which the hospital over a period of four days last month mistakenly administered the cancer medication Gleevec to a patient without cancer who was being treated for meningitis. DHS said it would cite King/Drew for delaying care and services, failing to clarify medication errors and lacking oversight of pharmaceutical services. DHS' announcement followed the Board of Pharmacy's prior decision to cite the hospital for the same error (California Healthline, 3/12).
According to Fred Leaf, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, King/Drew will require multiple staff members to approve medications before they are administered to patients and add "runners" to hasten the delivery of drugs to the pharmacy and patient rooms to help correct the problems at the facility, the Times reports. The staff also will be retrained on the "proper administration of medications," according to the Times. Steven Chickering, a manager for CMS, said that the hospital had "removed the immediacy," adding, "We're basically giving them more time to ... fix the problems." Chickering said that the hospital is still "out of compliance in the areas of nursing, pharmacy and quality assurance" and that a CMS team of inspectors will be sent to King/Drew in coming weeks to verify that the hospital has corrected the remaining problems, the Times reports. The inspectors also will follow up on a January report that found errors that contributed to the deaths of five patients, Chickering said.
Leaf said that the entire county DHS -- which faces a $650 million to $750 million deficit in the next several years -- would have been affected by the loss of Medicare funds at King/Drew, adding, "We would have to consider much more drastic actions in terms of closing facilities and loss of services." Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said, "There was a realization it was D-Day and obviously everyone pulled together" at King/Drew, adding, "Of course, we're not out of the woods" (Los Angeles Times, 3/20).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.