St. Luke's Directed to Fix Issues or Lose Medicare Subsidies

An embattled Houston hospital that in the past year faced leadership changes, a loss of some government funding and questions about heart transplant patient deaths has been accused of violating patient safety and quality care requirements.

State regulators on Tuesday notified Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center of the latest issues and gave the hospital 10 days to submit a detailed plan of correction or risk losing Medicare funding, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Doug Lawson, St. Luke's president, said he's confident that the hospital will meet all of the requirements and keep federal subsidies.

"Clearly, this is a very significant situation that we take with the utmost seriousness," Lawson said. "We have already made significant improvements across the hospital and we are confident remaining findings will be immediately addressed."

The termination warning comes after state and federal regulators conducted a two-week inspection done in April.

During the inspection, regulators determined that the hospital was not in compliance with numerous federal requirements linked to patient rights, infection control, quality assurance, food services, the hospital's physical environment and board supervision. The hospital received a copy Tuesday of the full inspection report describing the violations in detail, but the document will not be made available to the public until St. Luke's leaders submit their plan of correction.

In January, St. Luke's board fired three of the hospital's chief executives, including its president after hospital staff incorrectly provided a patient with the wrong type of blood in a transfusion. The mistake subsequently resulted in her death. That fatal accident is what led to the sweeping inspection by state and federal regulators and the latest round of citations.

Since then, the hospital has hired several new executives and implemented policy changes. The state health agency is giving the hospital until June 9 to completely enact its correction plan. If not, St. Luke's will lose Medicare backing on July 30.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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