CMS threatens to terminate Chicago hospital's Medicare contract

Chicago-based Holy Cross Hospital is at risk of losing its Medicare billing privileges due to patient safety issues, according to an Aug. 25 letter from CMS to the hospital obtained by Chicago NPR station WBEZ

CMS sent the letter after inspectors visited the hospital and discovered staff had failed to identify and remove "ligature risks" in its adult behavioral health unit, according to the CMS inspection report cited by WBEZ. Ligature risks include hinges, door frames or anything that patients could use to strangle or hang themselves, according to the report. 

Inspectors found two bathroom doors in the hospital's behavioral health unit with protruding hinges and eight patient beds with steel rings attached that could be used to fasten restraints. The executive director of the behavioral health unit told inspectors, "It is not safe to have patients in these identified ligature risk rooms," according to the report. 

In the letter to the hospital's chief administrator, CMS said the deficiencies identified during the inspection "are so serious that they constitute an immediate threat to patient health and safety." 

Hospital leaders are taking steps to resolve the deficiencies and keep the hospital's Medicare contract, a spokesperson told WBEZ

"Our leadership team is taking this matter seriously and is pulling together an improvement plan to immediately course correct the identified areas of improvement," the spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to WBEZ. "We want to be clear in stating that Holy Cross is not closing." 

Access the full WBEZ article here

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