East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital Might Lose JCAHO Accreditation
Officials for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations have threatened to revoke accreditation for East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital based on the results of an August inspection released this month that found the hospital laboratory does not meet 14 organization standards, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Among other problems, JCAHO inspectors cited the Doctors Hospital laboratory for failure to follow procedures for blood handling, worker training and equipment maintenance.
Doctors Hospital officials would not comment on specific problems cited by JCAHO inspectors, but they said that inspectors might have had concerns about a change in leadership of the hospital laboratory after the director took a leave of absence and an individual with "a different style" replaced her, the Times reports.
According to the Times, the threat of JCAHO accreditation revocation for Doctors Hospital has raised concerns about the potential effects on "Eastside's strained health care system."
Elastar Community Hospital, also in East Los Angeles, closed in August. Since the closure of Elastar Community, patient volume at Doctors Hospital has increased by 15%, according to hospital officials.
JCAHO spokesperson Mark Forsneger said that the organization could have revoked accreditation for Doctors Hospital immediately, but officials reviewed the August inspection report for months before they issued an opinion this month.
Doctors Hospital officials have contested the JCAHO opinion and plan to appeal. Doctors Hospital will retain JCAHO accreditation throughout the appeal process. Loss of JCAHO accreditation could make Doctors Hospital ineligible for participation in some private health plans.
Forsneger said that less than 1% of the more than 2,100 laboratories that JCAHO inspects require revocation of accreditation. The only other hospital in the state that JCAHO has threatened with loss of accreditation is Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.
Los Angeles City Council member Antonio Villaraigosa (D) said, "They closed down" Elastar Community, and we're losing the safety net of hospitals we have on the Eastside, in an area that has one of the highest concentrations of uninsured patients."
Steve Popkin, director of Texas-based HealthPlus, which owns Doctors Hospital, said, "With the hospital business operating on such small margins as it is right now and as many hospitals are actually losing money, any disruption of financial cash flow could be very detrimental to the hospital."
Doctors Hospital CEO Araceli Lonergan said, "We haven't done any harm to any patient. This has to do with paperwork." Lonergan added, "We're just continuing to do what we have to do, but we have to show that it was done." He said, "We're not a Drew. This is a lab thing."
Cathy Chidester, assistant director of the East Los Angeles County emergency services organization, said that she is "confident" that Doctors Hospital would retain JCAHO accreditation. She added that the loss of JCAHO accreditation for Doctors Hospitals would not affect emergency services in the county because the county does not require accreditation to decide whether ambulances can take patients to hospitals (Chong, Los Angeles Times, 12/23).