King/Drew Medical Center To Lose CMS Funding if Facility Fails Final Inspection
Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center as of Feb. 18 will be ineligible for about $200 million in annual CMS funding unless the hospital passes an inspection before that date, CMS officials said Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 2/3).
CMS officials in June and December 2004 cited the Los Angeles hospital for allowing police to use Taser stun guns to subdue aggressive psychiatric patients. Hospital officials agreed to limit the use of police officers and Taser stun guns, and the facility remained eligible for federal funding.
Following the June citation, hospital staff received training in how to manage aggressive patients better. Staff members were told to document all their actions prior to calling police.
CMS inspectors in December 2004 conducted three drills in which doctors and hospital staff members were asked how they would respond to aggressive patients with mental disorders. According to an e-mail to the board of supervisors, staff members were not able to "clearly describe and demonstrate their roles in managing assaultive patients."
In addition, county police officers participating in the drills came armed with Taser guns. County health officials told CMS officials that officers would not be armed when they initially responded to calls (California Healthline, 1/3).
CMS regional official Steven Chickering in a letter on Wednesday wrote, "Unfortunately, despite our productive working relationship, the hospital's performance on the most recent survey" was inadequate.
CMS officials also noted that King/Drew did not meet standards in nursing, pharmacy and quality assessment.
Federal officials have begun taking "legally required" actions to stop funding the hospital in the event that King/Drew does not pass the final inspection. For instance, CMS on Friday will publish a notice of the agency's decision in the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
If funding ceases, King/Drew would remain eligible for some federal money for emergency medical care.
CMS Regional Administrator Jeff Flick said that CMS has stopped funding at six U.S. hospitals in the last three years.
According to the Times, hospital supervisors have said the loss of CMS funding would make it "extremely difficult to keep the hospital open."
Thomas Garthwaite, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said that hospital officials anticipated the notification and that it will not affect hospital services.
Some county officials "expressed optimism" that the hospital would pass the upcoming inspection, which will be "narrowly focused on the treatment of psychiatric patients," the Times reports.
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "This is not rocket science. I'd be very surprised and disappointed if they weren't able to pass muster this time" (Los Angeles Times, 2/3).
CMS' announcement comes after the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations on Tuesday revoked its accreditation of King/Drew, denying a second appeal by the county Board of Supervisors to reverse the decision (California Healthline, 2/2).
KPCC's "Talk of the City" on Wednesday reported on King/Drew's loss of accreditation. The segment includes comments from KPCC reporter John Rabe (Felde, "Talk of the City," KPCC, 2/2). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.