Kaiser Permanente Addresses Kidney Program Problems
Kaiser Permanente officials have begun an internal inquiry into alleged problems at its kidney transplant program and will consider whether to allow patients to receive transplants at non-Kaiser facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 5/6).
In 2004, Kaiser told more than 1,500 patients on kidney transplant waiting lists in Northern California that it would no longer pay for treatment at the University of California-San Francisco and UC-Davis medical centers. Adult members were transferred to a new Kaiser center.
A Times investigation of the kidney program found that Kaiser performed 56 transplants during its first full year of operation in 2005 but that twice as many Kaiser members died while waiting for transplants. Delays involving paperwork errors and staff problems contributed to the problems.
The analysis concluded that Kaiser "endangered patients" awaiting kidney transplants by "forcing them into a fledgling program unprepared to handle the caseload" (California Healthline, 5/5).
Kaiser officials said they plan to contact the more than 2,000 members awaiting kidney transplants to address concerns and questions they may have. However, the Times reports that some patients, after learning of the problems, said they will seek care elsewhere.
The United Network for Organ Sharing, the organization that oversees the national transplant system, started an investigation of the program last week, according to Executive Director Walter Graham.
The Department of Managed Health Care also is investigating reported problems at the Kaiser program. The agency is willing to intervene on behalf of individual Kaiser members in Northern California, spokesperson Lynne Randolph said (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 5/6).