ORANGE COUNTY: CalOPTIMA Scrutinizes Garden Grove Hospital
Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center met a deadline yesterday when it "dropped off two binders of documents" requested by health care regulators in an investigation into "several incidents" at the hospital, the Orange County Register reports (7/21). Officials at CalOPTIMA, the Orange County agency that administers Medi-Cal to about 200,000 patients, asked Garden Grove to "turn over 'critical' information on the quality of care that its doctors and nurses provide." The Register reported Sunday that CalOPTIMA began asking for the information six weeks ago so the agency could investigate how the hospital was dealing with allegations that one of its obstetricians was abusing women after childbirth (7/19). Garden Grove spokesperson Donna Wolf said the hospital is "confident" the information turned over yesterday "will meet the expectations of CalOPTIMA."
To pressure Garden Grove for the requested information, CalOPTIMA last week "threatened to revoke its contract with the Noble Mid-Orange County Medical Group, a health plan consortium encompassing the Garden Grove hospital and a physicians network," the Los Angles Times reports. The agency also "froze the Noble Mid-Orange County health plan's enrollment of Medi-Cal patients." Kathleen Crowley, spokesperson for CalOPTIMA, said the specifics of her agency's request for information on the hospital's peer review process could not be disclosed because of confidentiality conflicts. But Crowley confirmed that CalOPTIMA was examining reports of complaints about a Garden Grove obstetrician "alleged to have routinely performed a painful procedure on women after childbirth without anesthesia" (Dodson, 7/21).
More Painful Childbirth Procedures
The Register reports that nurses and patients have accused Dr. Witoon Krailas of "routinely us[ing] ring forceps on his patients in a painful and inappropriate manner, frequently miss[ing] deliveries and allegedly [making] 'filthy' comments to patients, most of them poor Hispanic women." But neither CalOPTIMA nor the hospital "would say if Krailas' practices were involved in the latest action." According to the Register, Garden Grove nurses say they "first complained about Krailas to the hospital in 1993, but the hospital failed to prevent the doctor from subjecting women to unnecessary and painful childbirth procedures." Margaret Holm, Krailas' attorney, said he "was trying to remove blood clots and pieces of placenta" from the birth canal, and did not know the procedure was painful.
CalOPTIMA's investigation of Garden Grove and the Noble Mid-Orange health plan "also uncovered problems that could result in additional action against the health plan," Crowley said. Dr. Richard Frankenstein failed to disclose on public conflict of interest forms that he is medical director of Noble Community Medical Associates (the physicians group associated with the Noble health plan) and on the board of directors at Garden Grove. The "overlapping roles were known within CalOPTIMA," the Register reports. Frankenstein, also former chair of the CalOPTIMA board of directors, could not be reached for comment (7/19).