POMONA HOSPITAL: County Finds Problems With Records
A probe by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services' Health Facilities Division has found "numerous problems" with "record-keeping at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, the Inland Valley Daily Record reports. According to officials, the problems "could have hampered the ability of doctors to make decisions about patient care." Jean Olander, program manager for the division, said, "There were some serious problems identified in the medical records department." Among the problems detailed by the report were the hospital's failure to "provide specific information related to drug intake; ensure physical exams and medical histories were done on time; employ sufficient personnel to complete and file medical records; maintain outpatient records" and ensure the security of medical records. Other problems were found related to "ensur[ing] that records of a patient's prior suicide attempt were in the patient's file at the time of an emergency room visit," and "ensur[ing] that discharge summaries were dictated, transcribed and authenticated in required time periods."
No Way To Know
"Olander couldn't say whether the health of patients who visited the hospital was ever in jeopardy," the Daily Bulletin reports. But she did say, "When you are dependent on medical records and don't have the whole record, that may limit a physician's ability to make the best decisions for the patient." However, according to hospital spokesperson Kathy Roche, "allegations of inappropriate record shredding" were not substantiated in the report. It had been alleged by some employees of the hospital that Trevor Baylor, the hospital's former director of medical records, "ordered the destruction of vital patient medical records so the hospital could get a favorable review from a nationally recognized records accreditation service." In addition, Roche said the hospital is responding to the other problems identified in the report. He said, "The plan of correction we submitted addresses all of the deficiencies that the Department of Health Services identified and all of those issue have either been resolved or are being resolved." However, Paulette Edwards, the medical records technician who "first disclosed allegations of record destruction," said the state's findings were "symptomatic of under-staffing and disorganization." She said, "I believe a lot of it was attempts to shortcut the bylaws in order to statistically meet joint-commission standards."
Slow Boat To China
The Daily Bulletin notes that if the problems at Pomona Hospital are not remedied, "it could lose its Medicaid and Medicare funding." The county's Olander said, "They are on what we call a slow-track termination process" (Anderson, 4/9).