Inspectors Launch Investigation Into Emergency Care Delays at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center
State investigators on Tuesday began searching records at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, prompted by a front-page story in the June 26 Los Angeles Times that profiled three patient deaths possibly related to delays in emergency dialysis, the Los Angeles Times reports. The story that "sparked the probe" revealed that the hospital was "at times" unable to provide emergency dialysis services during "off-hours" because of a shortage of trained staff. According to the Times, doctors and nurses "pleaded" with hospital administrators to fund dialysis training for nurses, but "a solution was not found" until three patients died "after lengthy waits" for the procedure. In addition, the hospital failed to report the deaths to state health officials, "as required by law." While inspectors will be focusing on the hospital's delays in emergency dialysis, they "can go anywhere they find problems," Stan Marcisz, an official for the San Francisco branch of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly HCFA), said. Inspectors typically have 10 days from the conclusion of the inquiry to report their findings to federal regulators. Pending findings, the hospital could face termination of Medicare and Medicaid funds, but "more often," hospitals are given three months to fix the problems, at which time a panel of investigators reinspects the hospital "to ensure compliance." State inspectors expect the investigation to conclude this week (Riccardi/Rohrlich, Los Angeles Times, 8/2).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.