U of Kansas Health investigated by CMS after 2 incidents of immediate jeopardy

The death of a 73-year-old man in 2022 is just one of two major incidents that prompted a federal investigation into the University of Kansas Health System, according to a May 2 report from NBC affiliate KSHB.

According to documents CMS shared with Becker's, actions taken by medical staff during the two incidents under investigation were found to cause "Immediate Jeopardy conditions" which led to it "placing the health and safety of all patients at risk." The Kansas City CMS office notified the hospital of the findings April 10, 2023, according to the documents. 

The man who died in the care of the health system checked into the emergency department on Sept. 12, 2022, requesting care and reporting a bad cough. He was placed in a wheelchair and taken to a waiting room prior to examination. Nearly an hour and a half later, video footage obtained by CMS showed him unresponsive and shortly after he was declared deceased. 

"The medical record does not contain evidence that the hospital provided an appropriate [medical screening examination] prior to this time," the CMS documents state.

The documents also detail that another patient who had a high risk pregnancy checked in to the hospital on Aug. 2, 2022, requesting emergency care, but the staff reportedly "failed to stabilize [the] patient within its capability and capacity" and then discharged the individual, who was still destabilized, less than two hours thereafter. She was not only denied care at the University of Kansas Hospital, but also at Freeman Health System in Joplin, Mo.

CMS told Becker's it launched its investigation after receiving reports that the hospital may have violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. It outlined the deficiencies and outlined both steps and timeline, which the health system needed to take action on in order to rectify the situation.

The University of Kansas Hospital and the facility in Joplin, Mo. — which it also investigated after the incident with the patient who was denied care — "have taken steps towards coming into compliance," a spokesperson from CMS told Becker's. "CMS is continuing to work closely with them to ensure that they do so."

However, the spokesperson noted that the case is not considered closed and only when the University of Kansas Hospital achieves compliance verified by CMS will it be determined closed.

"Hospitals must achieve compliance to continue participation in Medicare," the CMS spokesperson said. "Failure to comply with the requirements can be grounds for termination for participation in Medicare."

At this time CMS noted that no further enforcement measures are being taken toward the University of Kansas Health System. 

Becker's reached out multiple times for comment from the health system but received no response. This story will be updated should more information become available.

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