Wake Forest Baptist retains Medicare contract after erroneous cancer diagnoses

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's pathology laboratory is in full compliance with Medicare's conditions of participation, CMS said June 15, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

In March, an initial CMS report revealed Wake Forest Baptist was at risk of losing its Medicare billing privileges after a survey showed pathology lab oversight issues resulted in four patients receiving erroneous cancer diagnoses. An amended report released April 11 said at least 25 patients were affected by faulty pathology laboratory test results at the hospital.

Three patients were incorrectly diagnosed with cancer, which resulted in two of those patients undergoing unneeded treatment. Three other patients were wrongly told they did not have cancer, which caused them to face a potential delay in treatment. An additional 19 patients received erroneous test results, but CMS determined their treatment was not affected because more tests were ordered that caught the problems with the initial tests.

Wake Forest Baptist was originally slated to lose its Medicare contract March 25 unless CMS and the hospital came to an agreement regarding the hospital's corrective action plan, but CMS extended that deadline a few times. Wake Forest Baptist submitted an amended corrective action plan to CMS in mid-April.

A follow-up survey June 11 revealed the hospital was in compliance with Medicare rules, according to a letter from CMS to Wake Forest Baptist.

In a statement to the Winston-Salem Journal, Wake Forest Baptist Health President Kevin P. High, MD, said he was pleased with CMS' decision.

"We welcomed the opportunity to work with the surveyors," Dr. High said. "Thanks to the culture of safety that exists at the medical center, which encourages all of our employees to speak up if they see something that is important to patient care and safety, we were able to recognize and rectify this situation, improving the quality of care that we provide."

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