Lack of Leadership, Accountability Faulted at UCI
The liver transplant program at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center was not effective because of a "general lack of accountability" and "a laissez-faire attitude toward many of the red-flag issues that ultimately led to the closure of the program," according to an independent review of the hospital released Thursday, the Orange County Register reports.
The review was conducted by a five-member committee appointed by UCI Chancellor Michael Drake after the hospital closed its liver transplant program in November 2005.
According to the report, a shortage of surgeons was a major problem for the program, and "a number of other UCI clinical programs are operating with marginal resources and staffing," such as the kidney transplant and bone-marrow programs. There also was a lack of clear reporting lines and strong management at the hospital, the report said (Knap et al., Orange County Register, 2/17).
In addition, "[l]egitimate complaints of [staff members] were not necessarily addressed in an appropriate way," committee member Kenneth Shine, executive vice chancellor of health affairs for the University of Texas system, said (Ornstein/Berthelsen, Los Angeles Times, 2/17).
Many of UCI's problems occurred when "good intentions and ambitious plans for growth exceeded both the financial and management resources available to assure quality and success," the report said.
The committee found that closing the liver program was "necessary and appropriate" and recommended that the hospital consider reopening it only when it is "determined to be a high institutional priority" (AP/Los Angeles Daily News, 2/17).
Shine said UCI should close all programs found to be beyond repair and institute a regular review process to detect problems quickly (Los Angeles Times, 2/17).
The report also recommended "renewed conversations with" Orange County to make a larger contribution for treating uninsured patients. The county's contribution currently is among the lowest in the state, the Register reports.
In addition, UCI should review all clinical programs to ensure they receive adequate funding and fit into the university's strategic plan (Orange County Register, 2/17).
Drake on Thursday said he would implement the committee's recommendations.
Drake said that he "would expect that there might be personnel changes" at the hospital and that he is recruiting an administrator to oversee the medical school and the hospital, as well as an ombudsman to report directly to the chancellor. He also will hire consultants to review the hospital's performance over the last four years (Los Angeles Times, 2/17).