JCAHO Downgrades King/Drew Accreditation; Two Graduate Medical Programs Ended
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations last week downgraded Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center to provisional accreditation after finding that the hospital had not fully corrected problems found during a surprise visit in February, Mark Forstneger, a JCAHO spokesperson, said, the Los Angeles Times reports. Margaret VanAmringe, a JCAHO vice president, said, "Provisional is not a good category to be in." During a February visit to investigate a complaint, JCAHO inspectors identified six problem areas, including leadership, hazardous-waste management, staffing and teamwork. Although five of the six problems were corrected, King/Drew did not properly address problems with oversight to medical residents, according to Forstneger. The hospital has until July 28 to make the changes or "risk additional sanctions -- and ultimately loss of accreditation," according to the Times. John Wallace, a spokesperson for Los Angeles County, said, "It is what it is. We're still an accredited hospital, and we will submit the corrective action plan for the one area they haven't accepted yet." After a separate, more comprehensive survey in May, JCAHO announced the hospital had earned continued full accreditation. Officials at that time said they needed to address 14 problems, and if those issues are not addressed by August, King/Drew's accreditation status could be downgraded further (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 7/3).
In related news, King/Drew's radiologist and surgeon residency programs were eliminated last week, "increas[ing] the workload of a hospital staff already buffeted by allegations of poor patient care," the Los Angeles Times reports. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education revoked the hospital's accreditation for its radiologist training program in 2002 and accreditation for its surgeon program in 2003; both programs were allowed to continue until Wednesday, the end of the academic year. According to the Times, the eliminated programs mean a loss of 15 radiology residents and 38 surgery residents who perform "a wide range of duties" for King/Drew. The hospital's 16 other residency programs now will have fewer than 300 residents. The neonatal program also has lost its accreditation and will be closed in June 2005.
King/Drew Medical Director Roger Peeks said that the hospital will try to hire three or four experienced surgeons and will have to rely on physician assistants working under supervision to make up for the lost staff. Peeks added that the hospital likely will have to replace most of its remaining radiology staff of about eight or nine doctors, who are expected to leave because they prefer to work in an academic setting, the Times reports. The hospital in the short term will use temporary radiologists and later will contract with a private company to operate the department, according to Peeks. Marcelle Willock, medical school dean at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, which administers residency programs at King/Drew, said that she hopes the surgery program will be reinstated by the 2006-2007 school year. Peeks said, "It's going to be hard, and (experienced) surgeons are going to have to work harder." He added, "We lose the ability to train, but we don't lose the ability to take care of patients -- the attending physicians were always the ones in charge of the primary care" (Hymon, Los Angeles Times, 7/5).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.