Duke LifePoint hospital at risk of losing Medicare funding for 3rd time in 1 year

Wilson (N.C.) Medical Center has received its third immediate jeopardy citation in under a year,  The News & Observer reported March 31.

CMS issued the citation after identifying numerous care deficiencies during a February investigation. The CMS investigation cited two "inappropriate encounters" between a male nurse and a female psychiatric patient on Jan. 16, which staff reported to the supervisor. 

The nurse was fired the next day, but the hospital failed to report the incident to the nursing board until a month after, according to the report. The Wilson Police Department investigated the "alleged inappropriate sexual interaction" in late January. After a month, the case was closed and they determined "no criminal act occurred."

Another incident involved a man scheduled for a CT scan. He was given contrast dye against his physician's orders. The dye damaged his kidneys and made him dependent on dialysis.

The for-profit hospital's Medicare contract will be terminated on April 7 unless a follow-up inspection finds the hospital fixed the issues identified in its report.

In a statement, a hospital spokesperson said, "We appreciate the work of the surveyors and have since updated our policy and access levels to specific areas of the hospital to address this complaint. Quality care, patient safety and regulatory compliance are our top priorities, and as always, we will work with CMS to ensure that these concerns are addressed as quickly as possible."

The medical center received its first immediate jeopardy citation last summer following three safety incidents in early 2022, two of which resulted in patients' deaths. The third incident involved a suicidal patient who locked himself in a bathroom in the hospital's emergency room lobby and threatened to overdose on medication that regulators say the hospital should have confiscated. The hospital submitted a corrective action plan to CMS June 28 and by Aug. 5 was no longer at risk of losing its Medicare funding. 

In October, the hospital received a second immediate jeopardy citation for potential violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. In a follow-up review of the 294-bed medical center, inspectors still found "substantial noncompliance" with Medicare rules, which the hospital had until the end of September to fix.

Duke LifePoint, a joint venture between Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Health and Durham, N.C.-based Duke Health, owns 80 percent of Wilson Medical Center. The Healthcare Foundation of Wilson owns the remaining 20 percent. 

Read the full report here.

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