Wake Forest Baptist at risk of losing Medicare contract over cancer misdiagnoses

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., is at risk of losing its Medicare billing privileges after a recent CMS survey revealed four patients received erroneous cancer diagnoses.

Due to lab oversight issues, three patients were incorrectly diagnosed with cancer and an additional patient was wrongly told he or she did not have cancer. This resulted in unnecessary treatment for three patients and a delay in diagnosis for a fourth patient, according to CMS. 

CMS determined the issues identified in the survey put patients' safety and health in "immediate jeopardy." Wake Forest Baptist's Medicare billing privileges will be terminated March 25 unless CMS and the hospital come to an agreement regarding the hospital's corrective action plan. CMS confirmed it is reviewing a corrective action plan submitted by the hospital.

In a statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Wake Forest Baptist Health President Kevin P. High, MD, said the hospital became aware of the deficiencies in its pathology quality monitoring process last fall.

"We promptly notified all patients affected, as well as the physicians who cared for them. We have completed a review of hundreds of similar cases to satisfy ourselves that there are no other patients who have been affected," he said. "In our initial review, we determined that most, if not all, of the misdiagnoses centered on a single individual who is no longer with Wake Forest Baptist. We also determined that additional quality processes, laboratory equipment optimization as well as staff training and education were needed. All of these corrective actions are well underway and most have been completed."

Wake Forest Baptist is working with CMS to address the issues identified in the survey, according to Dr. High.

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