Newark Beth Israel put patients in 'immediate jeopardy,' CMS says

Newark (N.J.) Beth Israel Medical Center's heart and lung transplant program put patients in "immediate jeopardy," and, even after planning corrective measures, the hospital still isn't in compliance with all federal standards, ProPublica reports.

The hospital's transplant program failed to fix mistakes numerous times, allowing "subsequent adverse events to occur," according to a pair of CMS reports sent to the hospital Dec. 12. Consequently, CMS determined that patients were in "immediate jeopardy."

Over seven months, three patients suffered brain damage, according to the reports. For two events, CMS found no evidence that hospital reviews of the events occurred. Then, starting in September 2018, the hospital kept the third patient in a vegetative state alive for a year to improve its transplant program's survival rate.

The reports also cite violations of patient rights, such as failing to obtain informed consent and seek information from patients and family on advance directives.

Newark Beth Israel does not believe the "immediate jeopardy" was warranted, hospital spokesperson Linda Kamateh said in a statement to ProPublica, adding that the hospital intends to send CMS a letter identifying specific objections. Regarding the hospital's failure to correct mistakes, Ms. Kamateh said the CMS investigators lack the "evidence, expertise and experience" to evaluate and diagnose patient outcomes.

The hospital submitted policy changes Dec. 15, and the New Jersey Department of Health determined the measures sufficient, removing the "immediate jeopardy" designation.

The hospital is currently reviewing required correction plans before submitting them to CMS, Ms. Kamateh said, part of which includes a newly developed transplant steering committee to oversee the program.  

Newark Beth Israel is still not in compliance with federal rules for quality assessment and performance improvement, surgical services, patient rights and special requirements for transplant centers, according to a Jan. 12 CMS letter to the hospital cited by ProPublica. If issues are not resolved by March 21, CMS wrote, steps will be taken to remove Newark Beth Israel from the Medicare program. 

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