CMS to take more aggressive role in enforcing safety at Baylor St. Luke's

A CMS inspection found Houston-based Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center violated patient care requirements, and the federal agency told the hospital state and federal officials would start taking a more aggressive role in enforcing safety standards, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The federal agency cut off Medicare funding for heart transplants at the hospital last year after a Houston Chronicle and ProPublica investigation revealed an exceptionally large number of patient deaths and unusual surgical complications in recent years.

Federal and state inspectors visited Baylor St. Luke's again in January after an emergency room patient died after getting the wrong blood type during a transfusion, according to information provided by the hospital cited by the Chronicle. Three top hospital executives were ousted.

That inspection revealed serious problems in nursing care, quality assurance programs and patient rights.

A report detailing each of the care deficiencies was provided to the hospital Feb. 7 and will be publicly released once the hospital submits a plan of correction to CMS, a CMS spokesperson said.

The latest citation does not carry the immediate threat of the hospital losing Medicare funding, but the letter said the newly uncovered deficiencies were "of such a serious nature as to substantially limit your hospital's capacity to render adequate care."

In a Feb. 7 statement to the Chronicle, hospital officials said they anticipated the federal citation and already had initiated improvement efforts.

"This is an important opportunity to focus our organization and conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation with CMS so that we can make the changes necessary to better meet CMS standards for patient care," said Megan Fischer, named vice president of quality at St. Luke's in January.

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