Swedish Health's Cherry Hill campus at risk of losing Medicare, Medicaid funding

CMS is threatening to cut off Medicare and Medicaid funding to Seattle-based Swedish Health's Cherry Hill campus in 90 days unless it resolves patient safety issues, according to The Seattle Times.

The Washington Department of Health inspected Swedish's Cherry Hill campus after a February Seattle Times investigative report exposed troubles, including staff members feeling intimidated, patient care concerns and surgeons performing overlapping surgeries.

The state surveyors identified numerous patient safety issues at the Cherry Hill campus, including failure to outline the roles of medical fellows, failure to address behavioral concerns, failure to document surgical tasks of medical residents, failure to listen to staff concerns and failure to track when the attending physician was in the operating room.

"Staff members feared punishment and retaliation for voicing concerns," the regulators wrote, according to the Seattle Times. "Staff members stated they were frequently bullied and intimidated for voicing concerns about the working conditions in the neurosurgical operating area."

To keep federal funding for the Cherry Hill campus, Swedish Health must submit a corrective action plan to CMS. Regulators will conduct another survey to ensure the hospital is in compliance with Medicare and Medicaid rules.

Swedish Health said that many of the deficiencies cited have been addressed, according to the report. The system implemented a new policy to ban overlapping surgeries. Additionally, Swedish Health CEO Guy Hudson, MD, insured that the culture of intimidation will be addressed

"We are sorry for what occurred at Swedish Cherry Hill on our watch," Swedish Health board members told the Seattle Times. "As volunteers, we continue to be deeply committed to our critical governance role in overseeing patient quality and safety, as well as physician credentialing."

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