Deficiencies Noted at Four Transplant Programs
The Department of Health Services last month sent letters to four organ-transplant programs warning that the programs risk losing eligibility to participate in Medi-Cal because of deficiencies, the Los Angeles Times reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The letters, mailed Aug. 23 and publicly released on Wednesday, call for explanations of problems and corrective action plans from the:
- University of Southern California University Hospital liver transplant program in Los Angeles, which had one-year survival rates lower than Medi-Cal standards;
- University of California-Davis Medical Center's liver transplant program in Sacramento, which had 1.5 times as many deaths as expected;
- California Pacific Medical Center heart transplant program in San Francisco, which had one-year survival rates lower than state standards; and
- Sutter Memorial Hospital heart transplant program in Sacramento, which did not perform enough operations to maintain competency, according to Fulton Lipscomb, head of DHS' medical policy division.
Corrective plans are due by Sept. 29 (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/31).
Lipscomb said that none of the programs currently is "at risk of losing Medi-Cal certification" (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 8/31). However, possible actions taken against the programs will depend "on what kind of explanations" the hospitals give for the deficiencies, Lipscomb said (Los Angeles Times, 8/31).
According to Lipscomb, the letters were mailed in response to media inquiries about organ transplant program performance measures that the state usually does not consider when certifying programs for Medi-Cal funding (Sacramento Bee, 8/31).
DHS spokesperson Ken August said the state annually evaluates the number of transplants performed and survival rates at the 20 to 25 medical centers in California that perform transplants (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/1). 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.