Memo Documents King-Harbor’s Troubled History
One of two Los Angeles County prosecutors who unsuccessfully requested a grand jury investigation into two patient deaths at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew University Medical Center in 2005 said the inquiry could have prevented further problems at the facility that have led to its possible closure this month, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In both patient death cases, nurses were alleged either to have ignored patients' heart monitors or failed to ensure that they were audible.
In a 2005 memo recently acquired by the Times, two county prosecutors expressed difficulty obtaining hospital records and also noted the county coroner's removal of autopsy findings that suggested substandard patient care by nurses at the hospital, now known as Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital.
The prosecutors proposed a grand jury investigation into the deaths, as well as possible cover-ups of misconduct at the hospital and whether the coroner was properly examining deaths involving medical wrongdoing.
Senior officials in the county district attorney's office said they rejected the proposal because no specific crime had been alleged and county leaders were addressing problems at the hospital.
Jeffrey Jonas, the senior prosecutor who recommended the inquiry, said, "I did say that this isn't the last we're going to hear about [King/Drew]. And sure enough, it's been an ongoing thing" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/2).
CMS regulators on Monday began a weeklong inspection of King-Harbor Hospital to determine whether it meets minimum patient care standards. The hospital since 2004 has failed to meet such standards.
If King-Harbor fails the inspection, the hospital will lose $200 million in federal funding and will be forced to close its doors.
CMS officials by Aug. 15 are expected to announce their findings (California Healthline, 7/27).