Memo Criticizes Quality of Care at King/Drew Medical Center
Nurses at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center "shirk basic patient care," physicians "allow known problems to fester" and county officials offer "poor oversight," according to a memo sent Monday by Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Director Thomas Garthwaite to the county Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Times reports. The memo is based upon a surprise four-day investigation by state inspectors acting on behalf of the federal government that was prompted by the state's examination of the recent deaths of two King/Drew patients (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 12/9). A state report released last month said that the two patients who died experienced inadequate nursing care and that a new bedside monitoring system failed to alert officials that the patients needed urgent medical care. According to inspectors from the Department of Health Services, nurses did not adequately examine the patients and in one case lied about performing tests ordered by a doctor (California Healthline, 11/11). According to the memo, inspectors found that:
- Nurses do not meet basic expectations for patient care and are responsible for patient records' errors and omissions.
- While problems with physicians and patient care are identified, changes are not made.
- The board of supervisors, which is responsible for the hospital's administration, likely will be cited for a lack of oversight and will have to draft a plan of correction.
If not corrected, these violations could cause the government to make an "unusual" decision to rescind the hospital's federal funding, the Times reports. CMS is expected to make a final report on the state's investigation by next month.
Garthwaite, who previously has defended King/Drew's quality of care, said on Monday, "I certainly feel less comfortable saying anything about the quality of care until we get additional studies done, additional actions taken." Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (D) said, "King/Drew has been a bottomless pit of problems that have in large measure been inadequately addressed," adding, "And now the cumulative effect of this decades-long neglect is that the whole institution is threatened." Garthwaite said that the hospital may need to reduce its specialty service offerings to focus on basic medical services, while Yaroslavsky said that the county should consider whether it should contract with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science to run King/Drew's doctor training programs, three of which face possible loss of accreditation from the American Council of Graduate Medical Education (Los Angeles Times, 12/9).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.