Los Angeles County Responds to CMS Report Criticizing Quality of Care at King/Drew Medical Center
Lawyers for the Los Angeles County-owned Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center on Friday released a "lengthy" response to a "blistering" CMS report on problems at the hospital, insisting the facility had taken "swift and decisive action" to correct the problems, the Los Angeles Times reports (Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, 1/31). The report found that nurses at King/Drew were told to lie about patients' conditions, failed to administer drugs prescribed by doctors and left critically ill patients unattended for hours. The report also found that staff errors led to the deaths of five King/Drew patients in 2003. Inspectors also found that King/Drew had not corrected problems it had pledged to address previously (California Healthline, 1/30).
In the response released Friday by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, hospital lawyers said the county had "revamped the hospital's management, increased nursing staff levels, instituted new training programs and otherwise attempted to correct numerous, serious problems," according to the Times. An attached letter said that "King/Drew has taken a multitude of prompt and comprehensive actions." County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said in an interview, "I think that the attention has been brought to such an extent, and it's such a crisis, that there's going to be tremendous cooperation to try to solve the problem." She added that she believed conditions at the hospital had improved recently, noting that senior county health officials had taken over management of the hospital and that a consulting firm has been hired to overhaul nursing operations. However, she acknowledged that the hospital has a "history of critical reviews and management shakeups" and that the county has "promised to fix problems at the hospital" in the past, according to the Times. Susan Brank, a spokesperson for the Board of Registered Nursing, said on Friday that her group will investigate nurses implicated in the CMS report. The Times reports that CMS can either approve or reject the county's response to its report. If it rejects the response, agency officials might still give the county more time to make corrections or set a date to cut off federal funds to King/Drew (Los Angeles Times, 1/31).
"If you find yourself feeling seriously ill while in the vicinity of King/Drew, I suggest you take two aspirin and ask to be airlifted to any other hospital in the United States or a nearby developing nation" because "it's now obvious ... that there's something rotten in that place," Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist writes. The "44-page indictment" of the hospital included in the CMS report "reads like a Stephen King novel," Lopez writes, adding that although the charges against the hospital may be "criminal," they are not "unbelievable." Although Burke's assurance that the county is "finally on the path to reforming King/Drew ... sounded good," such promises did "all the other times," Lopez concludes (Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 2/1).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.