Some PICU admissions halted at California hospital over safety concerns

The California Department of Health Care Services has restricted a hospital from accepting new patients at its California Children's Service program until dozens of safety concerns are addressed, the Los Angeles Times reported Sept. 15.

The agency found Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital fell short of standards for the California Children's Services program, which treats people aged 21 and under with chronic conditions. 

State reviewers from the agency noted that the hospital was short-staffed on critical care physicians and " not a safe working environment for the physicians and thus not a safe patient care environment," according to the Times. Critical care physicians told the state there were times when they wanted to transport patients but would face "disciplinary actions" if they did so, according to a state report.

The report also mentioned concerns about the pediatric intensive care unit opening outside program standards, having inadequate policies and procedures and failing to discuss problems in an organized way or acting to prevent future issues.

The state also said there was no pediatric neurosurgeon who met program requirements on staff, but Miriam Parsa, MD, chief pediatric medical officer at the hospital, said they have a neurosurgeon that meets requirements. The agency is gathering more information on the neurosurgeon's credentials.

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital submitted a corrective plan in late July, the details of which are still under review, according to the report. In the meantime, new admissions to the program are restricted "until the department has assurances that the corrective actions will address deficiencies, especially those that are most egregious and require immediate action."

Hospital officials told the Times they were working to implement state recommendations so they can reopen the unit to new patients. Until then, the program will continue to care for patients who are not in the CCS program.

"We are confident that these findings and the recommendations are just going to make us stronger," Cottage Health vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer Laura Canfield, DNP, RN, told the Times.

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