Mount Carmel could lose Medicare funding amid patient deaths investigation

CMS has notified Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System that two of its hospitals involved in an investigation of patient deaths could lose Medicare funding due to serious pharmaceutical services deficiencies, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The findings of surveys the Ohio Department of Health conducted for CMS will not be released until the two hospitals — Mount Carmel West in Columbus and Mount Carmel St. Ann's in Westerville — have a chance to submit a plan of correction and CMS approves each plan.

If Mount Carmel fails to create an acceptable plan, Medicare will not pay for services on or after Feb. 22 at Mount Carmel West or on or after Feb. 24 at Mount Carmel St. Ann's, according to letters sent by CMS obtained by The Dispatch Feb. 1.

A Mount Carmel spokesperson told The Dispatch the health system will continue to cooperate fully with CMS, the state Department of Health and other regulators to "ensure that a tragedy like that never happens again."

"We will submit Mount Carmel West's action plan next week and have already taken steps to implement the plan. We will follow the same process for Mount Carmel St. Ann's," the spokesperson said.

The health system has taken corrective steps to ensure patient medication safety, including more employee education on end-of-life care practices; a new protocol to set maximum appropriate doses for pain medication in the EMR; and a new escalation policy for deviations in pain medication protocols.

The health system faces investigations surrounding the actions of one of its former physicians, William Husel, MD.

Mount Carmel said Dr. Husel ordered excessive doses of painkillers for at least 34 near-death patients in intensive care dating from at least 2015. The doses were likely fatal in 28 of those cases, hospital officials said.

Dr. Husel, whom Mount Carmel fired Dec. 5, was suspended from the Ohio Medicaid program, and the State Medical Board of Ohio suspended his license.

More articles on clinical leadership & infection control:
23 Mount Carmel employees placed on leave amid patient death investigations
Mount Carmel CEO: We should have acted faster with physician accused of fatal prescriptions
Johns Hopkins All Children's has 3 weeks to correct safety lapses or lose Medicare funding

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