Case review reveals more erroneous cancer diagnoses at Wake Forest Baptist

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Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., has determined additional patients were affected by pathology lab oversight issues that resulted in patients receiving erroneous cancer diagnoses.

Here are six things to know.

1. In March, an initial CMS report revealed Wake Forest Baptist was at risk of losing its Medicare billing privileges after a survey revealed four patients received 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, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

2. 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, according to the report.

3. 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 now has until April 19 to submit an updated corrective action plan to CMS and until June 12 to resolve the pathology lab issues.

4. CMS initially determined the issues identified put patients' safety and health in "immediate jeopardy." On April 9, CMS removed the hospital's immediate jeopardy status, retroactive to March 26, according to the report.

5. In late March, Wake Forest Baptist Health President Kevin P. High, MD, told Becker's Hospital Review 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."

6. As of March 26, Wake Forest Baptist had reviewed 1,422 of the 9,291 histopathology cases that require review, according to CMS' amended report.

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