Report: Hospital Treated Critically Ill Infants Amid Staffing Shortages
Investigators from the California Department of Public Health found that Olive View-UCLA Medical Center continued to treat critically ill infants although it lacked the necessary staff to do so, according to a CMS report, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In November 2008, state officials downgraded Olive View's neonatal intensive care unit from "community" to "intermediate" status because it lacked sufficient neonatologists, who specialize in care for premature infants.
Norman Williams, spokesperson for the California Department of Health Care Services, said the downgrade should have prompted Olive View to transfer all infants in need of surgery and those on ventilators for more than four hours to hospitals with better equipment and staffing.
However, Olive View continued to treat infants in need of transfer and advertise the neonatal intensive care unitÂ as "community"Â status on its website, according to the report.
After reviewing a sample of five infants out of 30 who received care at the Olive View unit as of June 2, 2010,Â investigators found that all five required higher-level care than the hospital was authorized to provide. The investigators noted that a May 12Â memo from Olive View's CEO instructed the unit to provide "intermediate" level care.
Hospital, County Response
Olive View and Los Angeles County officials said they were unaware of the downgrade until the Times inquired about it.
In June, Olive View took steps to address theÂ previous staffingÂ issues by hiring a new unit director and five additional part-time neonatologists.
In July, state officials temporarily reinstated theÂ "community" status for Olive View's neonatal intensive care unit. Under the reinstated designation, Olive ViewÂ is transferring infants in need of surgery butÂ is continuing to treat infants on ventilators (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 10/11).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.