CMS won't end Mount Carmel's Medicare funding amid probe into patient deaths

A CMS official said Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel West will not be terminated from Medicare program participation Feb. 22 as originally stated in a letter to the hospital amid an investigation of patient deaths, CBS-affiliate TV station WBNS reports.

In January, a letter from CMS said if plans to correct deficiencies were not accepted, Mount Carmel's Medicare funding would be terminated Feb. 22.

A CMS official said the agency still is investigating and reviewing results of follow-up site visits by inspectors.

CMS placed both Mount Carmel West and Mount Carmel St. Ann's in Westerville, Ohio, hospitals in immediate jeopardy after dozens of patients were believed to have received excessive painkiller doses.

The Ohio Health Department started investigating Mount Carmel on behalf of CMS Jan. 15 after patient care concerns emerged involving William Husel, MD, a former physician who was fired from the system in December.

Mount Carmel is reviewing the records of all patients Dr. Husel treated and who died in the hospital. The system identified one more patient who received an excessive and potentially fatal dose of medication ordered by Dr. Husel, bringing the number of patients involved to 35, Mount Carmel officials confirmed to Becker's Feb. 22

St. Ann's Medicare funding status is not immediately known. In a statement to WBNS, a CMS official offered:

"CMS is currently reviewing the results of the most recent survey at Mount Carmel West. Consequently, CMS will not be terminating Mount Carmel West's participation in the Medicare program on February 22. We will continue to provide updates as they become available."

Since the investigation, Mount Carmel has added a new protocol to set maximum appropriate doses for pain medication in its EMR; implemented a new escalation policy for deviations in its pain medication protocols; restricted the ability to bypass pharmacy review of medication orders; and increased clinician education on end-of-life care practices.  

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