King/Drew Medical Center Might Face Closure of Third Residency Program
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has recommended closing Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center 's neonatal residency program, the Los Angeles Times reports. If the decision is upheld, neonatology will become the third of King/Drew's 18 residency programs to be terminated (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 12/4). On Oct. 22, the ACGME found King/Drew's oversight of its medical resident training programs to be substandard and decided to revoke accreditation for the facility's surgery and radiology residency programs, effective June 2004 (California Healthline, 10/31). According to the ACGME, the hospital does not treat "enough critically ill babies" to ensure that the doctors in training have "adequate experience," the Times reports. The accrediting group also cited a lack of "quality" research by the director of the program, fellows' low passing rates on board certification tests and the fact that one physician who did not pass the boards teaches residents and supervises research. To prevent the recommendation from becoming final, King/Drew has until Jan. 7 to write a letter to the accrediting group challenging the findings and then one more chance to appeal the decision to the council. The whole process might take as long as one year, according to the Times.
Dr. Xylina Bean, chief of the neonatology division at King/Drew, and Dr. Roberta Bruni, another neonatologist, said they are concerned that the ACGME's focus on their residency program could cause Los Angeles County, which owns King/Drew, to close the whole neonatal intensive care unit. Bean said, "[W]e don't deserve it." According to the Times, the county wants to close one of its four neonatal intensive care units to save funds, and officials are expected to make a decision on which one to close by Dec. 15. Assembly member Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) said, "It just seems like there's no ending to this dysfunction. At some point, those in charge are going to have to take some responsibility for this." Fred Leaf, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, said, "We're not going to allow the hospital to get to a point of being inviable. We're just not" (Los Angeles Times, 12/4).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.